Monday, October 20, 2008

Xie Jin R.I.P.

Legendary and award winning Chinese film director Xie Jin died at the age of 84 this past weekend. Xie didn't make many films that had much of an international impact, but he and his films are very well known in China. Xie directed 19 features, the first (Woman Basketball Player No. 9) in 1957 and his last (Woman Soccer Player No. 9) in 2001 (ironically coming full circle.) His 1961 adaptation of The Red Detachment of Women (which later became a popular ballet, especially during the Cultural Revolution) is a brilliant piece of Communist propaganda about a peasant woman's rise in the Communist ranks. More recently, he directed Hibiscus Town (1986) which won Best Picture at China's Golden Rooster Awards in 1997. He duplicated his award winning success with The Opium War in 1997 which had the biggest budget for Mainland film to date (no doubt having something to do with the Hong Kong handover.) He was found unconscious in a hotel room.

For the obsessive importers the DVDs can be found here: The Red Detachment of Women, Two Actresses aka Stage Sisters (1965), Legend of Tianyun Mountain (1980) and The Herdsman. The Opium War and Hibiscus Town seems to be unavailable with English subtitles.

2 comments:

Dan said...

I've seen absolutely nothing from him. Bad period for Asian people...

Kathie Smith said...

Not exactly the easiest films to see, and probably not of interest to most people. I just happened to be in China in 1996-7 when The Opium War (and the handover) was such a big deal. The Red Detachment of Women and Legend of Tianyun Mountain are fascinating for their historical relevance. The other thing about Xie Jin is that not only did his survive some pretty tough political times, but continued to consistently make films.