December 16th, 2016

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Zhang Yimou talks 'Great Wall'



Sometimes size does matter. In a career that has seen him orchestrate the opening and closing ceremonies of the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, as well as direct lavish spectacle films like Hero and House of Flying Daggers, Zhang Yimou is on the verge of releasing his biggest project yet.

Aptly set on the world’s longest landmark, The Great Wall is an historical fantasy that is perhaps the biggest Chinese film ever made. An American-Chinese co-production, it is said to have cost in the region of US$150 million – though the director simply shrugs.

“For me personally it’s not the biggest challenge or something I needed to worry about,” he says. “I think as a director what you really need to concentrate on is: make sure the story is good, make sure the characters are interesting and unique, and find something special to say in the movie.”

In the case of The Great Wall, this creature feature was being developed for seven years before Zhang came on board. The initial concept was hatched by Thomas Tull, CEO at US giant Legendary Entertainment, which in January this year was acquired by Chinese conglomerate Wanda Group.

“I was immediately drawn by the idea of fighting monsters on the Great Wall,” says Zhang. “I found that a very unique idea.”

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SCMP