Jiang Wen: China Is “Beyond Parody”
Actor and director Jiang Wen is currently in Germany at the Berlinale showing his new film Gone With the Bullets, a sequel to the blockbuster Let the Bullets Fly. The film’s December premiere in Beijing was called off after censors took issue with some scenes. Edmund Lee at the South China Morning Post reports on the film’s reception in China:
Loosely based on a real-life character in 1920s Shanghai, the film tells the story of a playboy, renamed Ma Zouri (Jiang Wen), whose murder of a high-class escort causes a sensation in the city and spawns a slew of stage productions, comedy routines and even a film that many consider the country’s first docu-drama.
“It’s as if [mainland] audiences are acting out my movie,” Jiang says when we meet the morning after the film’s Hong Kong premiere. “They’re playing out the relationship between Ma Zouri and audiences [of the docu-drama].”
Released on the mainland on December 18 amid much hype, the production is the second of Jiang’s planned trilogy set in Beiyang in northeast China during the early Republican period. The first, Let the Bullets Fly (2010), was a critical and commercial success. But Jiang has run into trials with the new production that seem to have uncanny parallels with its plot.
[…] Importantly, Gone with the Bullets has also offended the authorities. Its gala premiere in China had to be called off when state censors demanded nearly 40 changes because of allegedly sensitive material, mostly in the dialogue. [Source]
Deutsche Welle interviewed Jiang during his visit to Berlin about the movies and his goals in filming it:
In addition to history, Jiang is also obsessed with the quest for truth. “The leading character in this film is somebody who is unable and also unwilling to help the world move in the direction of fakery. He is somebody who wants to seek out truth. By making this film, I was also trying to find my way towards truth.”
“A lot of work being done here is challenging or going against people’s basic assumptions. For instance, the high status of the prostitute. Changing people’s preconceptions is something you have to do in order to search for truth. Of course normally that’s not done because it also challenges social stability and stories, as a result, are often told much more simply,” Jiang said.
[…] After being asked if his latest film is a parody of modern China, he burst into laughter again, saying, “China today is beyond parody. It is already a huge satirical work. Any film you would make about China is going to be a satire of China.” [Source]
Watch a trailer for Gone With the Bullets: