Chinese director Lu Chuan first made waves internationally with his 2009 film City of Life and Death, a movie praised for its stark depiction of the 1937 massacre of Nanking by the Japanese imperial army. Now Lu Chuan is prepping his latest endeavor, The Last Supper, which takes audiences farther back in history to the end of the Qin Dynasty. The story focuses on the famous Hongmen Banquet, which was held in 206 B.C. by one warlord with the express purpose of assassinating his rival.
If the black-and-white realism of City of Life and Death made you think this new historical epic would be similarly gritty, think again. In a new interview with Film Business Asia, Lu Chuan explains his approach to the material: “I’ve tried to bring a new style to Chinese historical movies. An almost sci-fi look, with flying around and immortal characters.”
In addition, Lu Chuan reveals that this film won’t just be a dusty commentary on something that happened thousands of years ago. Says Chuan: “In China there are many topics we cannot touch openly. However, historical movies act like a cover, a camouflage, [and] obscures the director’s meaning.”
The Last Supper features an impressive cast, including Yu Liu (Curse of the Golden Flower), Daniel Wu (New Police Story), and Chen Chang (Crouching Tigger, Hidden Dragon). The film is expected to release sometime in 2012, though Lu Chuan says that he is not aiming to meet festival deadlines for Cannes or elsewhere, and that The Last Supper is meant for Chinese and global audiences to enjoy once it is completed. In the meantime, you can head over to Chinese Films for a Behind the Scenes video.
Update: Building on our coverage from yesterday, the hallucinatory first trailer and some character posters have hit the web. Here are some new stills from the film, featuring Daniel Wu and his character’s impressive battle armor.
Director Lu Chuan recently spoke about the challenge Chinese directors face in trying to compete with Hollywood. Says Chuan: “Hollywood makes dreams come true for audiences through cameras. Over the past one hundred years, their movies have been the quintessence of cinema aesthetics. Why do Chinese filmmakers always make movies for themselves rather than for our audiences? We should think about that…We should learn from them [Hollywood] and guard the dignity of the Chinese film industry together.”
The Last Supper has been delayed from its original July 5, 2012 release date. There is speculation that the producers did not want to compete with the deluge of Hollywood blockbusters coming this summer, while director Lu Chuan joked that his film simply hasn’t been approved or given a rating by the State Film board yet. A special director’s panel at the Shanghai Film Fest recently discussed issues of movie censorship and Hollywood competition in China. Director Lu Chuan became very emotional while addressing the delay on The Last Supper but would not go into details. Says Lu Chuan: “The year of 2012 is a very dangerous year for the Chinese film industry.”
BREAKING NEWS: After a long delay due to possible censorship issues, The Last Supper will arrive in Chinese theaters on November 29th, 2012. Here’s a new poster to celebrate.