VENICE: He has made some of the most acclaimed Chinese films of recent decades, but Zhang Yimou is still studying his craft.
The Oscar-nominated director of “Raise the Red Lantern”, “Hero”, “The House of Flying Daggers” and “The Great Wall”, picked up a Glory to the Filmmaker Award at the Venice Film Festival where he also premiered his latest, “Ying” (“Shadow”).
“In China, we think that if you have a long life you have a long time to study and learn,” the 68-year-old told Reuters.
“I think that although I have been making films for 40 years I still need to study,” said Zhang, who also directed the opening and closing ceremonies of the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
“If you are passionate about your job you don’t want to keep repeating yourself, you strive to improve and make something that is better than your previous work and this is what keeps me going forward.”
“Shadow” is a martial arts epic with Shakespearean overtones set in a royal court of ancient China. The fight scenes are memorable for the use of lethal umbrellas as weapons, wielded in the half-light of an imposing river valley where the endless rain gives the rocks a silver glow.
“It’s many years that I wanted to make this kind of a film, a film that is inspired by Chinese traditional painting,” Zhang said.
“It’s very different from my previous, very colourful films. What makes Chinese painting particular is that it has a very deep philosophy and meaning behind it, things are not just black or white.
“Ink and water mix together in a very fluid, dynamic way and black and white mix together and give a very rich variety of shadows. And I wanted to explore this because I think human nature is the same, it is very complex, it’s not as simple as black and white.”
The Venice Film Festival ends on Saturday.