China Backs Biopic of Confucius, With Reactions

A Confucius biopic will begin filming in the next three weeks. Hong Kong actor Chow Yun-Fat was tapped to play the lead role. From BBC News:

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The film will be a joint production between Beijing-based Dadi Cinema and the state-run China Film Group, a Dadi Cinema official told Associated Press.

Filming is due to begin in three weeks. A release date has yet to be announced.

The movie comes amid a surge in interest in the philosopher, who was practically outlawed during China’s Cultural Revolution of the 1960s.

Mao Zedong and his followers criticised him, calling him feudal, old-fashioned and part of the bourgeois hierarchical thinking of the past.

From Telegraph:

The film, which casts Hong Kong’s gangster-movie star, Chow Yun-fat in the starring role, will tell the story of Confucius’s life and his travels around the kingdoms of northeast and central China expounding his political beliefs.

[…]In recent years the Chinese government has invested substantially in the Confucian revival, giving classic Confucian texts greater prominence in university teaching and, in 2004, setting up a network of Confucius Institutes abroad to promote Chinese culture.

However Daniel Bell, an expert on Confucianism, said it would be interesting to see how the film portrayed the thinker’s travels between different ancient Chinese states to persuade rulers to adopt his teachings, a goal that was not realised in his lifetime.

Some Chinese netizens have already chimed in with their opinions on the selection of Chow Yun-Fat as the lead actor. While many are excited and support the choice, others have sharply criticized the decision. Some reactions on Sina.com, translated by CDT:

周润发只能演小流氓,演孔子,他配吗?
Chow Yun-Fat can only play hoodlums — can he fit into the role of Confucius?

喜欢周润发,他演孔子非常合适,值得期待。
I like Chow Yun-Fat. He’s a suitable choice for the role of Confucius, and worth anticipating.

让周润发演孔子完全出于海外影响及‘票房’,但发哥的中文底蕴实在不敢恭维。为什么中国的圣人要请海外演员?这也反映出导演的水平了。
The choice of Chow Yun-Fat was entirely guided by the overseas influence and by the box office. But Brother Chow’s knowledge of Chinese isn’t all that great. Why is China’s sage going to be played by an overseas [Hong Kong] actor? This choice also reflects on the director’s quality.

发哥演孔子是最好的选择,,胡玫导演真有眼光
Brother Chow is the best choice. Director Hu Mei has really got vision.

周润发胸无点墨,满嘴仁义的假惺惺!不配演圣人孔子!!他演的孔子一定是个假惺惺的孔子,谁也别信他的话,太假。反正这部电视剧一定没劲,看几眼就换台。
Chow Yun-Fat is absolutely unlearned. He talks the talk, but can’t walk the walk, and is a totally inappropriate choice for the portrayal of Confucius!! He will certainly play a hypocritical, unbelievable, and fake Confucius. Anyway, this will be undoubtedly be a weak television drama (sic)! Just cast a few glances at it, and then turn away.

March 17, 2009 1:28 AM
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Categories: Culture & the Arts