Sept. 5 -- Director Feng Xiaogang's epic "The Banquet," starring "Memoirs of a
Geisha" actress Zhang Ziyi, had its world premiere at the 63rd Venice Film
Festival Sunday. Except for some 10 Chinese reporters, most of the audience was
made up of foreign media and movie buyers.
Unlike the film's domestic debut last week in
Guangzhou, where most of the Chinese reporters laughed it off, the audience in
Venice found the film confusing and disappointingly Western.
A loose adaptation of "Hamlet," "The Banquet" is set
in an empire in chaos. The emperor, the empress and the prince all have their
own enemies they would like to finish off at a banquet.
When the movie was shown in Guangzhou last Thursday,
Chinese reporters laughed out loud ironically and left during an awkward scene.
The traditional Chinese literary language left the audience confused.
Ge You, who plays the emperor, got laughs whenever he
appeared since Chinese moviegoers are familiar with his comedy roles and found
his seriousness unnatural. As for the plot, most Chinese critics gave "The
Banquet" negative reviews, saying they didn't understand what Feng was trying to
For the premiere in Venice, the dialogue was dubbed
into English and changed from the original Chinese, and the embarrassing scene
Still, some foreign reporters left before the movie
ended. After the screening, some reporters just made polite responses, saying
the movie was "nice."
Some said they didn't understand the ending. Some
Italian critics wanted a more Chinese film. Summing up their comments: As far as
the plot and structure are concerned, the movie is too Occidental. We hope to
see a Chinese movie with Chinese style or taste here in Italy. But we feel a bit
disappointed. If the background was cut out, we could hardly tell that this was
a Chinese movie.
Feng and actors Zhang Ziyi and Zhou Xun went to
Venice to promote the movie. Ge You didn't go because he fears flying.
Wang Yang, spokeswoman for Huayi Brothers Film
Investment Co. Ltd., China's biggest private filmmaker, said earlier that the
movie's distribution rights in Britain, France and Spain have been sold.
The movie will be released across Asia on Sept. 15.
(Source: Shenzhen Daily)