Friday, September 21, 2012

Chen Kaige's 'Sacrifice': Based on 'Orphan of Zhao'

This is the official trailer from the Chinese film, Sacrifice (2010), written and directed by Chen Kaige, who is responsible for bring stage works, Farewell, My Concubine and Forever Enthralled, to the big screen. Sacrifice is about misused power and the desire for revenge and retribution; it contains elements of both Shakespeare and the Jewish Bible (i,e, story of Moses). The film is based on thirteenth-century dramatist Ji Junxiang's "Orphan of Zhao," the first Chinese play made popular in Europe.

The film has a number of complicated turns and twists; The Hollywood Reporter writes:
The film is set in the Kingdom of Jun in 583 B.C. Prime minster Zhao Tun presides over his ancient and illustrious 300-member clan. His son Shuo is a war hero who married the King’s sister Zhuangji, and they are expecting a child. Such perfect bliss is simply intolerable for their court rival Tu Angu (Wang Xueqi).
Tu’s scheme to cause the Zhao clan’s downfall is so elaborate it makes one’s head spin. It involves a mad dog, a killer mosquito fed on poison, a horse-tripping rope, a chariot with its wheels sawed off, and wine supposed to distill political magnanimity to a ruler. All this unfolds within 20 minutes without a narrative hitch.
And that’s just the prelude to the prologue. There’s an even more twisty yarn of how Zhuangji’s infant son is rescued with the joint efforts of Zhuangji’s gynecologist Cheng Ying (Ge You); Han Jue, a general sent to kill Zhao (Huang Xiaoming); and the Zhao’s longtime ally Gongsun (Zhang Fengyi). The most crucial point here being: Cheng’s newborn son dies in the orphan’s place. So Cheng names the boy Bo and raises him to avenge Tu. He enters Tu’s household as a retainer, and Bo becomes Tu’s godson.