Lu Chuan on his film City of Life and Death
lundi 17 janvier 2011
Lu Chuan talks to us about his film City of Life and Death after it premiered in France at the Paris Film Festival in July 2010. The film is a spectacular portrayal of the Japanese army’s invasion of Nanking.
Lu Chuan, a Beijing Film Academy graduate, co-wrote Black Hole, a successful TV series in China. This is his most internationally well known film to date, although his previous films had won him a number of awards and nominations on the international festival circuit.
How was the film received in China ?
The film received mixed reactions. It can be considered a box office hit in China as a lot of people went to see it but it was controversial so it had detractors. Many people said I was sympathetic to the Japanese characters, others said it was too exaggerated.
Why did you decide to have a Japanese soldier as a protagonist and allow us to view some of the action through his eyes ?
Wars have their invaders and their victims but I don’t believe everything is black and white. My aim was to adopt a new original viewpoint that hadn’t really been done previously in regards to this event. All the protagonists, the soldiers, the Chinese, they’re all human and their views are all equally valid.
Why did you opt for a black and white film ?
It was an aesthetic choice. I felt it enhanced the realism of the scenes and of the action. Also I feel, and this is a cultural thing, that the use of black and white conveys a sort of transcendent quality, it conveys upon the events a sort metaphysical and universal dimension.
Did you have to cope with particularly stringent censorship ?
There is censorship but it is less stringent now. The board is after all made up of filmmakers and academics so they tend to be more sympathetic. It is like a puzzle, you have to grasp the rules and see how your film fits into them. To be fair, the rules are much more relaxed for art house films but if you want to go mainstream this is the price to pay, and I wanted the film to be viewed by as many people as possible.