The Great Wall (2017)
0This $135 million (and counting) movie - China's most expensive - is made by the great Chinese director Zhang Yimou. In order to widen its appeal to western audiences, the movie puts Matt Damon in a leading role. His casting has been criticised as yet another example of the "western hero to the rescue to save the foreigners from disaster" syndrome. Described as an epic science-fantasy monster-adventure film, it obviously makes little claim to historical authenticity. In fact, the 'great wall' never was one single wall; it's a series of walls built at different times by the orders of different rulers in different areas for different purposes. It's not 5500 miles long, nor can it be seen from the moon. And it wasn't built to keep horrible monsters out, which is the movie's cheerfully implausible selling-point.
Director Zhang Yimou is a master of HOuse of Flying Daggers, Hero, Red Sorghum, director of opening and closimg Olympic Games ceremonies. His best folms combine grand spectacle with magnificent images,while at the sane time examining the personal lives of some characters.
His magnificent action scenes have inspired many imitators: 2016's Game of Thrones "Battle of the Bastards" famous award-winning battle scenes are lifted from Zhang's 2006 movie Curse of the Golden Flower
Zhang has provided some of the best action set pieces of the last couple of decades e.g. House of Fling Daggers.They combine magnificent scenery, bursts of slow motion, and superbly edited and choreographed combat, They are enhanced by magnificent photography. both interiorand exterior.
The famous 'battle of the bastards' sequence in the 2016 season of "Game of Thrones" owes a great deal to the climax of Zhang's 2006 movie "Curse of the Golden Flower"
The Great Wall itself
The movie's plot involves mysterious and terrifying beasts (dragons?) attacking the wall and its defenders in an attempt to destroy the inhabitants of China it is designed to protect.
But in fact, the actual Great Wall was always an incomplete work in progress, and most historians doubt that key sections of it were actually capable of repellingt invaders, even those in human form rather than enormous flying monsters.
The monsters in this movie are the Taotie, dragon-like flesh-eating monsters who have a habit every 60 years of breaking through the Great Wall in order to feast on humans.
Taotie were in fact regularly featured in Chinese mythology, and were a popular subject depicted on bronze vessels from the Zhang and Zhou dynasties. Images of Taotie may date even further back in time, to designs on Neolithic jade pieces.
The movie's great wall isn't really the great wall of China
As portrayed in the movie, the great wall of China is a long, high, continuous massively solid structure, apparently built of solid rock and stone, designed to keep flesh-eating flying monsters out. Of course, the actual wall was not built to repel monsters. True, in some areas it was intemded to keep human invaders at bay. But it had other purposes as well. It was a marker of frontiers and a warning for intruders. But it was never continuous, and always had gaps. Its sections were built over several centuries.