Chen Kaige

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Chen Kaige
Chinese name陳凱歌 (traditional)
Chinese name陈凯歌 (simplified)
PinyinChén Kǎigē (Mandarin)
Born(1952-08-12) August 12, 1952 (age 61)
Beijing, China
OccupationFilm director
Years active1980s-present
Spouse(s)Chen Hong
ParentsChen Huai'ai (father)
 
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Chen Kaige
Chinese name陳凱歌 (traditional)
Chinese name陈凯歌 (simplified)
PinyinChén Kǎigē (Mandarin)
Born(1952-08-12) August 12, 1952 (age 61)
Beijing, China
OccupationFilm director
Years active1980s-present
Spouse(s)Chen Hong
ParentsChen Huai'ai (father)

Chen Kaige (simplified Chinese: ; traditional Chinese: ; pinyin: Chén Kǎigē; Wade–Giles: Ch'en K'ai-ko) (born August 12, 1952) is a Chinese film director and a leading figure of the fifth generation of Chinese cinema.[1] His films are known for their visual flair and epic storytelling.[2] Chen won the Palme d'Or at 1993 Cannes Film Festival and the International Federation of Film Critics (FIPRESCI) Award in 1993. [3]

Early life[edit]

Chen Kaige was born in Beijing, China into a family of Fuzhou Changle origin, and grew up with fellow Fifth Generation alumnus Tian Zhuangzhuang as a childhood friend. During the Cultural Revolution, Chen joined the Red Guards. His father, Chen Huai'ai was a well-known director in his own right.[1] As a teenage member of the Red Guards, Chen, like many other youths, denounced his own father, a fateful decision he eventually learned to regret. Indeed, this period of his life continues to influence much of his work today, notably in the unblinking depictions of the Cultural Revolution in Farewell My Concubine, and in the father-son relationship in Together.[4] With the end of the Cultural Revolution, Chen, in 1978 joined the Beijing Film Academy, where he graduated from in 1982 as part of the so-called Fifth Generation of Chinese filmmakers.[1]

Directorial career[edit]

Upon graduating, Chen was assigned to the inland studio at Guangxi, along with fellow graduate, Zhang Yimou.[1] His first movie, Yellow Earth (1984) established itself as one of the most important works of Fifth Generation filmmaking; though simple, its powerful visual imagery (courtesy of cinematography by Zhang) and revolutionary storytelling style marked a sea change in how films were seen and perceived in the People's Republic of China.[1] The Big Parade (1986) and King of the Children (1987) expanded on his filmic repertoire. In 1987, he was awarded a fellowship by the Asian Cultural Council and served as a visiting scholar at the New York University Film School.[5] Early in 1989, he did further experimenting in a music video for the song "Do You Believe In Shame" by Duran Duran.[6] Later that year, he made Life on a String, a highly esoteric movie which uses mythical allegory and lush scenery to tell the story of a blind sanxian musician and his student. In the same year, he was a member of the jury at the 39th Berlin International Film Festival.[7]

His most famous film in the West, Farewell My Concubine (1993), nominated for two Academy Awards and winner of the Palme d'Or at 1993 Cannes Film Festival,[3] follows two Beijing opera stars through decades of change in China during the twentieth century. Chen followed up the unprecedented success of Farewell My Concubine with Temptress Moon (1996), another period drama starring Gong Li. Though it was well received by most critics, it did not achieve the accolades that Concubine did, and many were put off by the film's convoluted plot line. Almost as famous is his The Emperor and the Assassin (1999), an epic involving the legendary King of Qin and the reluctant assassin who aims to kill him.

In 2002, Chen made his first, and to-date only English-language film, Killing Me Softly, a thriller starring Heather Graham and Joseph Fiennes, though it proved to be both a critical and popular disappointment. His more recent Together (2002) is an intimate film about a young violinist and his father. In 2005, he directed The Promise, a fantasy wuxia picture. The Promise saw Chen shifting to a more commercial mindset, a shift regarded by some as a "radical stylistic turn" from his previous works.[6]

In 2006 he was awarded with the Lifetime Achievement Award at the 28th Moscow International Film Festival.[8]

In 2008 Chen directed the semi-biography Forever Enthralled which is a return for him in the sense of directing a film based on Chinese opera. He later went on to direct Sacrifice (2010), which is a re-imagine of the famous play The Orphan of Zhao.[9] The film was a box-office hit and many critics saw it as his "return to form".

Chen has also acted in several films, including Bertolucci's The Last Emperor (1987) and his own The Emperor and the Assassin and Together.

His 2012 film Caught in the Web was selected as the Chinese entry for the Best Foreign Language Oscar at the 85th Academy Awards, but it did not make the final shortlist.[10]

Personal life[edit]

Chen's first wife was Sun Jialin (孙加林), whom he met while working at the Beijing Film Factory, between 1975 and 1978; they married in 1983. Sun is a graduate of the Beijing University of Civil Engineering and Architecture. She obtained a Ph.D in engineering in Canada. Sun was named Scientist of the Year in 2002 at Dupont. She now works in Shanghai for a large US private company. He later married Hong Huang, the daughter of Zhang Hanzhi, a diplomat who had worked as an English translator for Mao Zedong. She graduated from Vassar College in New York and is the current, CEO of China Interactive Media Group. In the early 1990s, after their divorce, Chen lived with Ni Ping, a female television hostess.[11][12] In 1996, Chen married actress Chen Hong.[13]

Filmography[edit]

As director[edit]

YearEnglish TitleChinese TitleNotes
1984Yellow Earth黃土地
1986The Big Parade大閱兵
1987King of the Children孩子王
1991Life on a String邊走邊唱
1993Farewell My Concubine霸王別姬Palme d'Or winner at the 1993 Cannes Film Festival
1996Temptress Moon風月
1999The Emperor and the Assassin荊柯刺秦王
2002Killing Me Softly
2002100 Flowers Hidden DeepSegment in the anthology film Ten Minutes Older: The Trumpet
2002Together和你在一起2002 Silver Seashell for Best Director at the San Sebastián International Film Festival
2005The Promise無極
2007Zhanxiou VillageVignette in the anthology film To Each His Cinema
2008Forever Enthralled梅兰芳
2010Sacrifice趙氏孤兒
2012Caught in the Web搜索Fictional treatment of the human flesh search engine.[14]

As actor[edit]

YearEnglish TitleChinese TitleRoleNotes
1987The Last Emperor末代皇帝Captain of Imperial Guard
1999The Emperor and the Assassin荊柯刺秦王Lü Buwei
2002Together和你在一起Yu Shifeng
2009The Founding of a Republic建國大業
2012The Monkey King: Uproar in Heaven

As writer[edit]

YearEnglish TitleChinese TitleNotes
1984Yellow Earth黃土地
1991Life on a String边走边唱
1996Temptress Moon风月
1999The Emperor and the Assassin荊柯刺秦王
2002Together和你在一起
2005The Promise无极

As producer[edit]

YearEnglish TitleChinese TitleNotes
2002Together和你在一起

See also[edit]


Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e Berry, Michael (2002). "Chen Kaige: Historical Revolution and Cinematic Rebellion" in Speaking in Images: Interviews with Contemporary Chinese Filmmakers. Columbia University Press, p. 83. ISBN 0-231-13331-6. Google Book Search. Retrieved 2008-09-10
  2. ^ (7 January 1994) FILM / Critical Round-up independent.co.uk
  3. ^ a b "Festival de Cannes: Farewell My Concubine". festival-cannes.com. Retrieved 2013-11-07. 
  4. ^ Klady, Leonard (2003-05-31). "Interview - Chen Kaige". Movie City News. Archived from the original on 2007-04-01. Retrieved 2007-04-23. 
  5. ^ "The filmmakers". 
  6. ^ a b Doughton, K. L. (2007-02-03). "The Color of Forbidden Fruit: Chen Kaige lights up the screen with The Promise". MovieMaker Magazine. Retrieved 2008-08-25. 
  7. ^ "Berlinale: 1989 Juries". berlinale.de. Retrieved 2011-03-09. 
  8. ^ "28th Moscow International Film Festival (2006)". MIFF. Retrieved 2013-04-21. 
  9. ^ Lee, Maggie (11 January 2011). "Sacrifice -- Film Review". The Hollywood Reporter. 
  10. ^ "Caught in the Web Competes for Academy Awards". Chinese Films. 29 September 2012. Retrieved 29 September 2012. 
  11. ^ "Director Banks on New Film for Box-office Success". China Daily. December 16, 2005. 
  12. ^ Mak Mun San (May 21, 2007). "8 questions with... Hung Huang". AsiaOne. 
  13. ^ Yang Jie, ed. (12-08-2008). "Chen Hong, behind Chen Kaige´s illustrious cinematic career". Culture Express. CCTV International. 
  14. ^ Clare Pennington (September 14, 2012). "China, Framed by the Cinema and the Web: ‘Caught in the Web,’ on Web Searches in China". The New York Times. Retrieved September 18, 2012. 

External links[edit]