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The Hero – oriental in tone, stunning visual style

visually stunning

visually stunning

The Hero – Zhang Yimou

It is rare that one can recommend a film simply because of its stunning visual style. The cinematography (Christopher Doyle), editing and especially vibrant colour throughout create a movie that, irrespective of anything else, is always fascinating to watch. I have not seen a film before where a different dominant colour is used to mark and set the tone of each phase of the story. This is done subtley and with such a keen senseof balance that what might have been a distracting contrivance simply adds to the subliminal power of the film.

Your view of the other aspects of the film will perhaps be influenced by your own attitudes. Essentially the retelling of an ancient legend, the tension between our established ‘naturalistic’ expectations of character and performance and the more detached, stylised performances here may leave some dissatisfied. However the problem of how to render legendary characters on film is better resolved here than in any Hollywood attempts e.g. Brad Pitt’s Achilles.

There is an elegance of movement and action , notably in the frequent martial arts fight scenes, which for this viewer at least, always sustained interest. The plot is quite convoluted but not obscure. The symbolic treatment of characters representing courage, leadership and destiny within the framework of possibly real historical events on the whole worked for me, though may frustrate some.

Certainly the most visually beautiful film I have seen for a very long time.

March 2005

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