Zhang Yimou’s new film is set in the last days of China’s Cultural Revolution, following a newly-released political prisoner (Chen Daoming) as he tries to reconnect with his wife (frequent Yimou collaborator Gong Li), who is stricken with amnesia. We open the movie 9/9 at the Royal, 9/18 at the Playhouse and 10/2 at the Town Center. The director wrote this about his powerful new work: “Based on Yan Geling’s novel The Criminal Lu Yanshi, COMING HOME is a love story about joy and sadness, as well as separation and reunion. We used the end of the original story – with Lu Yanshi returning home – as the starting point of the script. Everyone knows that Chen Daoming and Gong Li are the finest actors working in China, and they were my first and only choices for their respective roles. I’ve learned a lot from working with them. They offered a lot of constructive opinions about even the smallest details in the story. That’s why their contribution to the film extends far beyond the portrayal of the characters.
“Having a so-called “rising star” in the daughter’s role was not a must as her character serves a very important function in the story. When I first met [Zhang] Huiwen, I noticed her bright shining eyes, which resembled the aura of young Red Guards. It was what I needed. For the second part of the film, I needed to change the way her eyes look. They should look as if they are in a trance, always hesitant. Huiwen had the ability to do that.
“This type of film is very difficult to make. It needs to be made in a state of serenity. If I thought about benefits and profits even a little, then I would lose my way. That’s why, for me, this film represents a return to an earlier state of mind and an older approach to creativity. The most important thing for me is whether the audience will keep this film in their hearts and whether they will truly remember the emotions behind COMING HOME.”
One of the most important and influential filmmakers in China, and a core member of China’s “Fifth Generation” directors, Zhang Yimou started his career as a cinematographer and became a director in 1987. Over the years, Zhang has directed films which received accolades from around the world: RED SORGHUM (1987, Golden Bear winner at the Berlin International Film Festival), JU DOU (1990, In Competition at the Cannes Film Festival and nominated for Best Foreign Language Film at the Academy Awards®), RAISE THE RED LANTERN (1991, Silver Lion winner at the Venice International Film Festival and nominated for Best Foreign Language Film at the Academy Awards®), TO LIVE (1994, Grand Jury Prize at the Cannes Film Festival), to name a few.
In 2002, his martial arts epic HERO ushered in a new era of blockbusters for Chinese cinema, and was followed by the equally successful HOUSE OF FLYING DAGGERS (2004), and CURSE OF THE GOLDEN FLOWER (2006)