Chen Kun has been singled out in praise for his acting in the film Jian Guo Da Ye, commemorating the PRC’s 60th anniversary (today in China time), not an easy feat when the entire film consists of stars. He was chosen to act in the film as Nationalist leader Chiang Kai-shek’s son, Chiang Ching-kuo, future president of Taiwan, because he had a youthful air about him, as well a brooding pensive quality. He ended up playing it so well, that he was given more screentime while others were cut.
Here he sings red song Yin Shan Hong at the premiere ceremony a few weeks ago. He’s no Huang Ying, but I think he did a good job anyway.
I normally hate to talk politics in general, but since I am posting about this movie, I’d like to clear up a few things about the political aspect.
Most people have a knee-jerk reaction to this movie, because it’s “propaganda”. Perhaps, but not like you think. Due to closer cross-straight relations, and a celebratory nature of the movie in general, this will probably show the Nationalist side of the civil war as very sympathetic, which will in turn cause many Chinese youth to wonder what exactly the communists were fighting for in 1949 . And as much as the Mao-led government sucked afterward, the status quo before the civil war gave every reason for revolution. Frankly, this movie will definitely be much more balanced and less one-sided than The Patriot was to the British.
Yes, the Founding of a Republic differs from the usual film with so many celebrities, but the great hodge-podge of the famous in times of celebration is a Chinese tradition, and 60 is a significant number. Otherwise, this type of movie doesn’t happen often. China has plenty of state-sponsored films but the majority do not depict politics, but instead inspirational figures. idarklight posted about one before starring Liu Ye. They are meant to inspire, and unfortunately they do have stigma attached and no one goes to see them.
Even the state-sponsored films that do touch on politics, which were more prevalent back in the 60s, shouldn’t be labeled under one umbrella. Some were good and some were bad. Some were fake, biased and contrived, while others dealt with politics deftly and were no more biased than most non-Chinese movies. Strange Visitors on Cold Mountain was brilliantly made. You can watch it here (sans subs) and I very much recommend it. The opening is classic, set to the haunting score by Lei Zhenbang. The song Chen Kun sang is Yin Shan Hong, which depicts a type of wild red azaela that covers the mountains in Southern China in summer, and is a metaphor. I love the song, but the movie of the same name, from which this song came from, was a very contrived one, since it came out right after the Cultural Revolution and in my opinion, not worth watching.
Below is a clip of Jian Guo Da Ye director Han Sanping joking that even though he’s supposedly the director, “Nothing [he] says matters” because there’s too many directors (as cameos) on set. At 1:16 in the clip Feng Xiaogang sits down behind the camera and says not to waste film ; Zhang Ziyi sitting behind the two directors laughs, amused by this. Like her, I think it’s cute when directors get excited about their work and can’t help but direct, because it’s their life, their love, their passion. And it will be interesting to see what they have worked hard to produce. Let’s not dismiss their work because of preconceived idea of what it consists of, especially when it’s meant to be balanced and accommodating to both sides of a civil war, something that’s quite the rarity.