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Painted Veil to premiere this week
Latest Updated by 2006-12-30 09:27:44
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The long-awaited "Painted Veil," partly filmed in breathtaking Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, opens tomorrow and tells the story of an English couple who arrives in 1920s Shanghai, and of adultery, rediscovery and forgiveness, writes Xu Wei.

"The Painted Veil," about an English couple's love, estrangement and rediscovery in a cholera-ravaged village in 1920s China, will be released tomorrow - the only Hollywood movie to be screened in China during the golden New Year period.

"The Painted Veil," starring Edward Norton, Naomi Watts and Anthony Wong, is already expected to be nominated for Oscars for Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Cinematography, Best Costume Design and Best Original Score, featuring Chinese pianist Lang Lang.

But you have a choice during the golden week. If your tastes run to kung fu, stunts, magnificent period costumes and heart-stopping story lines, there's also Zhang Yimou's epic "Curse of the Golden Flower" and the Hong Kong police thriller "Confession of Pain."

"The Painted Veil," based on W. Sommerset Maugham's novel of the same name, was partly filmed in Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region. The scenery is gorgeous.

"The romance is similar to 'The Bridges of Madison County,' but this time with a Chinese backdrop," says Ellen Eliasoph, director and vice president of Warner China Film HG Corp, the producer and distributor.

Eliasoph says that though film distribution is the company's major business, the script was so amazing that the company wanted to take part in coproduction of "The Painted Veil" with Chinese filmmakers and actors.

Set in the 1920s, the story centers on a young English couple who get married for all the wrong reasons. The husband is an intellectual doctor, the wife a shallow woman. The couple moves to Shanghai where the wife falls in love with another man.

When the husband discovers her adultery, he takes revenge by accepting a dangerous job in a remote, cholera-stricken village and takes her along. However, the journey breathes new life into their relationship. The two get to know each other under extreme circumstances and gain newfound respect and love.

The film remains true to the novel, except that Hong Kong is changed to Shanghai. To director John Curran and the cast, the most difficult things to depict were not love but betrayal, revenge and forgiveness.

When attending the Ninth Shanghai International Film Festival in June, Hollywood actor Norton, hailed for his roles in "Primal Fear" and "American History X," explained the subtle connotation of "veil" throughout the story.

"Every person has their prejudices and fixed ideas - these form a 'veil'," he said in an earlier interview with Shanghai Daily. "As the protagonists live and work with each other, their 'veils' are slowly lifted."

The "veil" also covers on the face of the "captain," played by Wong, who is ambivalent about whether the foreigners have come to China to help it or invade it.

"The movie is so different from typical Hollywood genres such as the '007' and 'Mission Impossible' series," says the 44-year-old Hong Kong actor. "After efforts on the superficial roles in police dramas, it is a rare opportunity for me to play in this emotional film that goes straight to the heart of the audience."

Compared with many recent Hollywood productions partly filmed in China, such as "The White Countess" and "Mission Impossible III," China is more than a backdrop in "The Painted Veil."

Both the turbulent political scenes in Shanghai and the tranquil remote valley in Guangxi perfectly match the delicate emotional changes of the characters and the tragic ending.

"We wanted this movie to be distinctly Chinese," said director Curran during an earlier interview. "We were determined to find a place in China that was right for the tone of the film - both beautiful and gothic. The valley and its mountains created the right mood."

According to movie buff Wendy Liu, the picture is authentic to its time and place. "In addition to a British humor in its witty lines, Chinese elements of the period such as Peking Opera, sedan chairs and architecture mix with the story line in a natural way. That is really better than the excessive portrayal of Chinese flavor in 'Curse of the Golden Flower'," she says.

During filming in China, actress Watts, who is known for her role in "King Kong," said she experienced a transformation somewhat similar to that of the protagonist Kitty - from initial tension and lack of familiarity to full relaxation. She also praised director Curran's ability to grasp delicate human relationships, and add humor to the most awkward conditions.

The 19 million U.S. dollars film was named one of the year's top 10 movies by America's National Board of Review, which also honored its screenplay.

Editor: Donald

By: Source:China View website
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