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张艺谋 Zhang Yimou (ICD Pt.1)

People in misery is what most important in art. - Zhang Yimou

Known for his films that explore sexual repression and political oppression, this internationally critically acclaimed Fifth Generation filmmaker has been one of China’s pre-eminent directors for over twenty years. Realising his first film as a director for Red Sorghum in 1986, Zhang continued his directing career, winning numerous awards and recognitions. Zhang was also appointed as the director for the opening and closing 2008 summer Olympics, which received considerable international acclaim.

Zhang’s storytelling style is dominated by the use of colour and visual displays of his female stars. While the display of his female stars is part of a complex picture of generation and gender reaching back to early 20th century debates on Chinese modernity, his use of colour has become one of the essential methods to his films. His mastery of the use of colour is used to sway the soul strings of the audience “[exhibiting] the psychological power of colour, which causes the tremor of the spirit." (Lei Ying translated by Feng Tang). Although Zhang uses a broad spectrum of colours, he had heavily preferred red during his early days. In an attempt to break away from only producing visually vibrant red films, a new aesthetic concept, the “Yin and Yang Aesthetics”, was proposed by Zhang.

Zhang equally has a unique choice in music which he employs in his films. Including folk songs and Peking Opera, Zhang can masterfully pick traditional songs and sounds that add a touch of traditional charm while depicting the emotions of characters.

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