'Secret Fan' Brings Snow Power of China

2011-06-30 09:06:19        Global Times

The stars of the latest Hollywood female epic moive, "Snow Flower and the Secret Fan," Li Bingbing and Gianna Jun shoot a batch of photos for Trendshealth magazine to promote their film.[Photo: sina.com]

What are the core ingredients to a classic Chinese film? The answer is as enigmatic as the question – but if one were to pick a modern example, it might be "Snow Flower and the Secret Fan".

"Snow Flower"'s behind-the-scenes story is as quintessentially Chinese as its actual plot. Produced by Wendy Deng (whose husband Rupert Murdoch happens to be a major media mogul) from the bestselling 2005 novel by Lisa See, the film was initially due to headline Chinese tabloid favorite Zhang Ziyi.

However, Zhang is said to have fallen foul of Deng for some reason, leading to her replacement, Li Bingbing.

The film itself is about  ancient, exotic concepts of Chinese fidelity and love: Laotong (the friendship of two women for life), foot binding and nüshu ("women's writing," a system of written characters used historically among Chinese females in some remote regions), elements making it a contender for serious critical consideration.

Directed by well-known Chinese-American Wayne Wang ("Chinese Box" (1997)), the film focuses on two girls who form a laotong relationship and how their relationship stays true throughout life's hardships.

With South Korean actress Gianna Jun (in Korean Jeon Ji-hyun) playing the other lead, a Chinese-born female producer, and Florence Sloan (Malaysian-Chinese wife of MGM CEO Harry Sloan) co-producer, the film is an all-Oriental women's team.

"I work with almost all women this time and the film is also about women. It's a girls' team," director Wang said during the 2011 Shanghai International Film Festival early this month.

Set over three different periods – early 20th century rural Hunan, and 1990s and modern-day Shanghai – and switching between the three, the lead characters share much of the same personality and intimacy, although their outfits and environment vary. The language and dialects in the film are also various, including the Hunan dialect (as once spoken by Mao Zedong), Shanghainese, Putonghua, English and Korean.

In terms of the content, you may have guessed already but the producers firmly deny it: There is no lesbian undercurrent, according to the makers.

 Li insists, "Laotong is no lesbian, it is too vulgar to say so!" as she told media.

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