‘Cloud Atlas’ Lands in China, 35 Minutes Lighter

The genre-spanning Cloud Atlas debuts in China on January 31st in an incarnation almost a quarter shorter than the original cut, courtesy of the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television. From Ernest Kao at South China Morning Post:

The original film, based on the novel of the same name, spanned 172-minutes long for European and American markets but was cut to just 137 for its mainland version, according to the film’s directors.

[…] “Although the mainland version is a bit constrained, [we] fully believe in the regulator’s editing standards,” said Cloud Atlas co-director Tom Tykwer, who was in Beijing on Tuesday to promote the movie ahead of its January 31 release.

[…] Material deleted mainly comprised of love scenes, gory sequences and nudity. A number of same-sex love scenes between actors Ben Whishaw and James D’Arcy were also cut from the film due to the Sarft’s strict ban on homosexual content.

Details of changes to the latest Bond film, Skyfall, also emerged last week following its belated Beijing premiere. While The Atlantic’s Matt Schiavenza dismissed the edits as “little more than a government tailoring a popular film for its audience“, Xinhua reported that the altered film had prompted calls for a less capricious censorship process:

Shi Chuan, a professor from Shanghai University’s school of film & TV arts and technology, proposed the enaction of relevant laws and the establishment of norms for movie censors to follow.

[…] “Movie regulators should respect the producers’ original ideas, rather than chopping scenes arbitrarily,” Shi said.

However, he said that he believes the censorship system is necessary for China’s film industry.

[…] During an annual session of China’s political advisory body held in March last year, Yin Li, vice chairman of the China Film Association, said Chinese film-making faces too many restrictions regarding sensitive topics such as public security, diplomacy, ethnic minorities and religion.

“I hope China can offer more freedom to film-makers so that a more favorable environment can be created for the country’s movie industry,” Yin said.

While money from the mainland has attracted attention recently, SCMP’s Vivienne Chow wrote that Cloud Atlas‘ financing suggests a role for Hong Kong in the global film industry:

According to veteran Hong Kong filmmaker Philip Lee, an executive producer of Cloud Atlas responsible for its fund-raising in Asia, Hong Kong has a unique edge in film financing, especially in the Asia-Pacific region.

“Hong Kong is the Asian financial centre and has a long history in filmmaking. With more collaboration with foreign projects or companies, knowing how to find the right match is very important, and Hong Kong has the expertise,” says Lee, who served as an associate producer of the international hit Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and a line producer for Batman film The Dark Knight during its filming in Hong Kong.

[…] “The mainland certainly has capital, but can they find the right people? Not necessarily. Hong Kong can be more active in bridging this gap,” [Media Asia’s head of distribution Ricky Tse Chi-keung] says.