… the way art works / Chinese way

The Committee to Protect Journalists points to an interesting – or better to say – shocking interview with Zhang Yimou, film director, who did the coreography for the Beijing opening show:

Thanks to Xiao Qiang, director of the China Internet Project at the University of California Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism and Sophie Beach at China Digital Times for taking the time to translate and post Southern Weekend’s interview with Zhang Yimou, the once renegade movie maker who took on the job of organizing the opening ceremony of the Beijing Games. The excerpt is called “The Way Art Works,” and it turns out that the way art works in China is not pretty. Zhang has become mainstream and in doing so has become controversial again. His early movies were low budget, set in ordinary people’s lives and had a gritty reality that ran into a lot of problems with censors but found receptive audiences overseas. Lately he has veered toward more lavish movies as he has found more officially approved success and acceptance. …. (excerpted from cpj

.. and excerpts from this translation …

…. Zhang Yimou: None of them said this to me. They only felt — actually, I felt that we had two things added together, one plus one, that made such an impact. The first one is a human performance. I often joke with them and say that our human performance is number two in the world. Number one is North Korea. Their performances can be so uniform! This kind of uniformity brings beauty. We Chinese can do it too. After hard training and strict discipline, Chinese achieved that as well. Like the moveble type cubes, they follow orders. Actors listen to the orders, and can do it like computers. Foreigners admire this. This is the Chinese spirit. We can make our human performance reach such a level, through hard and smart work. This many foreigners cannot achieve.

I have conducted operas in the West. It was so troublesome. They only work four and a half days each week. Everyday there are two coffee breaks. There cannot be any discomfort, because of human rights. This can really worry me to death. Wow, one week, I thought I should have rehearsed it very smoothly already, but they could not even stand in straight lines yet. You could not criticize them either. They all belong to some organizations. ….they have all kind of institutions, unions. We do not have that. We can work very hard, can withstand lots of bitterness. We can achieve in one week what they can achieve in one month. Therefore our actors can give such a high quality performance. I think other than North Korea, no other country can achieve this in the world. ….
part 1 / part 2

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