Zhang Yimou (张艺谋, 1951- ) is one of the leading lights of Chinese film and is often considered one of the greatest living Chinese directors. He tends to favor stories set in rural/historical China, often with an emphasis on the dark side of the setting, and also has a very strong visual style. Many of his movies contain remarkable Scenery Porn even within quite restricted settings. Was romantically involved with Gong Li for a number of years and featured her, and later Zhang Ziyi as leads in many of his films.
He gained a lot of applause for directing the truly spectacular opening and closing ceremonies of the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games. He was chosen again to direct the said ceremonies of the 2022 Beijing Olympics as well.
The films of Zhang Yimou include:
- Red Sorghum - An adaptation of the Mo Yan novel.
- Ju Dou - Co-directed with Yang Fengliang
- Raise the Red Lantern
- The Story of Qiu-Ju
- To Live
- Shanghai Triad
- Keep Cool
- Not One Less
- The Road Home
- Happy Times
- Hero (2002)
- House of Flying Daggers
- Curse of the Golden Flower
- Amazing Tales: Three Guns / A Woman, A Gun, and a Noodle Shop / A Simple Noodle Story - His first (epically failed) attempt at comedy, a remake of The Coen Brothers film Blood Simple to boot.
- Under the Hawthorne Tree
- Flowers of War
- The Great Wall
- Shadow (2018)
- One Second
- Cliff Walkers
- Snipers (co-directed with his daughter, Zhang Mo)
- Full River Red
Tropes found in or relating to Zhang Yimou's work include:
- Banned in China: In 1994, his film To Live was banned for having a negative portrayal of CCP policies and Zhang was also barred from making films for two years (along with its lead actress Gong Li). In 2019, his film One Second was abruptly pulled from the 69th Berlin International Film Festival after being previously scheduled to screen; while no official reason was ever given, many film critics suspected censorship since the movie's subject matter was related to the Cultural Revolution.
- Color Motif: Striking and heavily symbolic use of color is considered to be part of Zhang's Signature Style — the color-coded armies in Curse of the Golden Flower and The Great Wall for example. Besides his wuxia films, Raise the Red Lantern is also a striking example.
- Creator's Oddball: His film "A Simple Noodle Story" is a remake of the Coen Brothers comedy Blood Simple, which Zhang says is one of his favourites. It's rare for him to do a remake or a comedy.
- The Muse: Gong Li, in his earlier period.
- Scenery Porn: His films typically use vividly colorful visuals and extremely detailed sets and costumes.
- Wuxia: Some of his recent films have all more or less been wuxia, in contrast to his slower-paced, more contemplativenote earlier works.