Talk:Zhang Yimou

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the bit about "Chinese Leni Riefenstahl"[edit]

Some anonymous user keeps deleting this sourced statement, on the grounds of partiality from the publisher, the New York Times, generally considered to be one of the most authoritative publications worldwide, fitting without a doubt the criteria laid down by Wikipedia:Reliable sources. Needless to say I think he's wrong, and also a little biased.--Piccolo Modificatore Laborioso (talk) 10:31, 31 December 2008 (UTC)

I don't know, the person does have a point. Any reference to Leni Riefenstahl can be polarizing after all. I think the reference should be kept in the article, but right now, it is given rather undue prominence in the introduction, and it gives only one perspective on Zhang's role of the Summer Olympics. If anything it should be put in the section on the Opening Ceremonies (which needs to be expanded with global reactions anyways).Tryptofeng (talk) 14:34, 31 December 2008 (UTC)
Upon reading the article, I think the reference as it stands is even less proper. First, it refers not so much to the Opening Ceremonies, but rather as a blanket criticism of Zhang for his recent shift in film style and new close relationship to the government. As such, I think it can be kept in the introduction, but it definitely needs more context. For example, "Though Zhang Yimou's early career was marked by government interference and censorship problems, recently he has been seen to embrace the government, with many of films, such as the controversial but internationally successfulHero, being seen as glorification of Chinese authoritarianism.(ref) Criticisms leveled against Zhang include that he has become something of a Chinese Leni Riefenstahl.(ref) His newly popular position among President Hu Jintao's administration nevertheless has allowed Zhang opportunities that were unavailable to him in the earlier part of his career, including the directing of Beijing's Opening Olympics." Any reactions to the Opening ceremonies, both positive and negative, could be left in that section.Tryptofeng (talk) 14:53, 31 December 2008 (UTC)

That's fine for the lead then--I'll play with it a bit and put that in. --Asdfg12345 00:31, 1 January 2009 (UTC)

One has to consider how to structure an encyclopedia article about film directors. For living person, see Wikipedia:Biographies of living persons#Presumption_in_favor_of_privacy. The lead section serves as a summary, thus should be concise and be an introduction. See how other directors articles' lead section are summarized, it definitely shouldn't include specific criticism about the director's career. About the discussed New York Times article, the article itself was citing "opinion", not stating fact. The piece states "critics of Zhang..." It can stay on the article, but the lead section should be a summarized section. Trimmed the lead and moved the statements chronologically according to the director's career since it is a recent piece.--TheLeopard (talk) 00:32, 14 January 2009 (UTC)

Okay, let me check that thing BLP out, I agree that's something which needs to be respected. If all the information is in the article, that will be my minimal requirement. I don't care enough about this to spend much time on it. basically, I think it's notable though, and probably the most significant thing about the director. History will sort it out.--Asdfg12345 07:04, 14 January 2009 (UTC)

Can you indicate which part of that policy you cited is relevant to us? It seems that this note (that he is pro-CCP, and using films and his apparent artistic talent to glorify its rule) is not just a once off, but an ongoing thing. Could you explain how it is not relevant or significant?--Asdfg12345 07:07, 14 January 2009 (UTC)

Lumping a large chunk of paragraphs citing a New York Times news article analyzing the director's critics accusation of the director is not a good general introduction section, but of rather opinionated persepective. If you want an example of general biography of Zhang Yimou from film critics and authors, you can check out Jonathan Crow's biography of him at Allmovie [1] and Mary Farquhar's at Sense of Cinema [2].
Frankly your comments above strikes me as personal and you kind of lost me. This is a general film biography about a director, and we should at least maintain a neutral point of view (however, juding from your comments, and I hope I'm wrong, you seems to be purely editing this article out of eh, political motivation...); these articles should've also been written from an auteurist persepective. The most important thing is to clean-up and format this article as per a film article should've been done (hence the copyediting tag at the top). His personal view and non-film information and everything else could be mentioned in the article, but sorted based on timeline and sections.--TheLeopard (talk) 07:44, 14 January 2009 (UTC)

Well, I think both perspectives are relevant, it's just about adding sourced information to the article in a meaningful and useful way to the reader. Check out the article on Leni, for example--these people are not making films in a vacuum; if reliable sources comment on a directors' films appropriation or design to achieve political ends, then obviously it's notable etc., and in some cases rather significant. It depends on the weight of sources, as always. Anyway, I appreciate your explanation and engagement. What needs to be done to clean the article up according to how a film article should be done? Maybe I should follow the link and have a look into that, to see how I can help. If it's not in that link at the top, please let me know where I can find out. Also, what do you mean about the articles written from an auteurist perspective--I know that word, but do you mean like, they are meant to examine and point out the unique characteristics of the director? also, I'd like to point out that your remark about the view of the critics as being opinionated is also your own opinion. What I mean is, you may think it's opinionated, but others think it's a simple statement. Anyway, let me have a look at that clean-up stuff later, and I might do a quick google about the other stuff.--Asdfg12345 08:23, 14 January 2009 (UTC)

CCP involvement?[edit]

A chinese film history professor told me Zhang exposed his father as a KMT sympathizer to the Chinese Communist Party when he was 15, and had him arrested. Does anyone know if this is true? --NEMT 02:53, 11 April 2006 (UTC)

-> Your professor was likely talking about Chen Kaige, see [3]. I'm not sure if Zhang Yimou did so also, but he was a member of the Red Guard, like many young people in his generation.--Tryptofeng 15:30, 17 August 2006 (UTC)

I don't believe so, I'm pretty sure Kaige Chen was compelled into red guard activities, as many of his films contain an anti-mao slant (emperor and assassin when compared to hero, most notably), whereas Zhang Yimou appears to have actively embraced it and openly endorses chinese sabre rattling. I may also just be remembering all of this incorrectly though, as it would be a pretty big coincidence if both had similar stories about their fathers, despite different beliefs. --NEMT 05:11, 21 August 2006 (UTC)
Did you click on the link? It's pretty well established that Chen Kaige denounced his own father (just do a google search to see interviews where he himself discusses it). His attitudes in his films are perhaps a direct reflection of his remorse over his actions.Tryptofeng 05:07, 17 September 2006 (UTC)

Inequitable Fine in Context of Net Asset Effectively Nullifying the Law for the Rich[edit]

Equitable fines based on total nett asset. A flat 10,000 yuan fine would be painful to a lower class earner, but to Zhang Yimou, that would be nothing. Use a

percentage total nett asset based fine instead, probably 30% of net asset, since overpopulation could destroy China? So if Zhang is worth 100 million, the fine

should be 33.3 million. For that lower earner say for example, if worth 50,000 in totality, the fine should be 16,666 yuan instead - also 30%. The fine of 1.23 million yuan is nothing to the USD$70,000,000 US Dollars that Zhang Yimou has which equals 423.6 MILLION Yuan and is a mere 0.25% of Zhang's entire wealth. Just totally unfair as opposed to the poor. Using a percetiage based fine would be equitable. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 2001:E68:4000:15:1C39:8F3B:8AEE:CB75 (talk) 22:43, 5 January 2014 (UTC)


So I'm not really a fan of the current format of the article, in particular the movie by movie division. It feels disjointed and it becomes kind of difficult to discuss the bigger trends in Zhang's films (i.e. the recent big budget films and their backlash, the mid-early 90s streak of international art house hits, and the early forays into film in the 80s). Anyone else agreeTryptofeng 15:52, 2 July 2007 (UTC)


Why is it stated that he 'had to sell his blood'? He did not have to sell his blood, he chose to sell his blood. During his university years he was financially supported by his peasant wife, who did not earn very much. He repaid her by having affairs and finally dumping her. A great film director he may be, but his character defect is that he has no sense of responsibility to or respect for anyone who sacrificed their life to help him and give him what he desired. This is reflected in his directing, there are lots of superficial effects such as the intense colors, but no deeper meaning than the 'I must have' attitude. (talk) 03:31, 14 January 2009 (UTC)

Was he married at 18? Anyway, it was during the Cultural Revolution that he sold his blood, I don't think anyone can get by without doing any work. He did work in a textile mill. BTW "had to sell his blood" simply means he has no money to purchase a camera otherwise. DORC (talk) 19:08, 31 January 2009 (UTC)
Whatever the case with the note above (source please?), the notes about his propaganda on behalf of the CCP shouldn't be ignored or dusted away.--Asdfg12345 06:13, 14 January 2009 (UTC)
What propaganda? Zhang Yimou has already stated many times he is not interested in politics. (talk) 16:07, 4 June 2009 (UTC)
This guy is heartless. (talk) 02:03, 19 May 2012 (UTC)


The birthdate is listed variously as 1950 or 1951. For 1951, see [4] [5] [6] [7]. For 1950 see [8] [9]. For both see this new york times bio [10]. Keep in mind that the Wikipedia source has probably been used elsewhere, possibly erroneously. For note, it was originally listed as 1950 on this article, but changed by this edit.

I don't know which is correct, but someone with some more reliable sources would be appreciated. Edit summaries and sources help clear up confusions over these sorts of things, so please use them if you make edits that change long-standing information. Shadowjams (talk) 04:20, 30 May 2010 (UTC)

More 1950 sources, [11] and [12] -- Boing! said Zebedee (talk) 05:46, 1 September 2010 (UTC)
Here it is from Zhang Yimou's wife, on the occasion of his 65th birthday, via Beijing's China International Publishing Group - April 2, 1950 (2015 - 65 = 1950) Fb2ts (talk) 19:10, 25 July 2017 (UTC)

Copy edit, September 2010[edit]

While copy editing this article for the Guild of Copy Editors September drive, in addition to working on style, grammar, etc, I've also done a number of other things. I've removed quite a lot of unsourced commentary and analysis which had been tagged since 2008 or early 2009, and have replaced some examples with material taken from articles about Zhang's films themselves, and I've also removed some of the more excessive flowery praise. I've also standardized on British English, which appeared to be the dominant version (and I hope I haven't missed any), and have removed some overlinking. I was unable to resolve the contradictory reports of Zhang's year of birth, and could only add another couple of inconclusive sources to the talk section above. -- Boing! said Zebedee (talk) 17:34, 1 September 2010 (UTC)

potential NYT resource[edit] by Edward Wong (talk) 20:12, 8 January 2012 (UTC)

I actually think that this article directly contradicts a statement made under the paragraph, "Critical Reception." If you read the Times article it states quite clearly that he caters too much to the party than to the West. I mean China used one of his films as their official selection to the Oscars. Not to mention that the source stating that people in China feel he caters to the west too much is from a book that costs over $100 on Amazon so it's hard to reference it. I get that she's a professor of Asian studies but that doesn't make her right and if you are going to have a critical reception section you need to have the reception of more than just one critic. Especially one that isn't really a critic.

Sorry if I am incorrect in stating this here. JaqenHghar80 (talk) 23:36, 6 July 2017 (UTC)


I was hoping this article would clearly state which films were cleared by sarft and distributed domestically, and which ones only went overseas (like "to Live"). — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 08:35, 21 February 2012 (UTC)

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Nothing about his personal life? Including the fact that he had a long relationship with Gong Li, the lead actress in so many of his films? — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 02:00, 25 June 2012 (UTC)

Edit Request[edit]

In 2010, Yimou was invited to serve as a mentor for the Rolex Mentor and Protégé Arts Initiative, an international philanthropic programme that pairs masters in their disciplines with emerging talents for a year of one-to-one creative exchange. Out of a very gifted field of candidates, Yimou chose Annemarie Jacir as his protégée.[1] RMP2014 (talk) 14:02, 12 March 2014 (UTC)


Please be consistent and don't mix traditional and simplified Chinese. -- (talk) 23:33, 3 August 2015 (UTC)

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Birthdate Controversy Cont'd[edit]

The birthdate of Zhang Yimou was listed as November 14, 1951 in the article until December 24 last year when an IP-user changed it to April 2, 1950 without further explanation. You can see the edit here. The IP hasn't mae ay other edits neither before or after. Take a look at other language versions you will see that none lists April 2, 1950 as his birthday. DrKilleMoff (talk) 04:31, 25 July 2017 (UTC)

If you google "Zhang Yimou birthday", you will find an article dated April 3rd, 2015 (a Friday) at and the first sentence says, "Chinese director Zhang Yimou celebrated his 65th birthday with his wife and children on Thursday." If you look further at's about page, you will see, "The authorized government portal site to China, is published under the auspices of the State Council Information Office and the China International Publishing Group (CIPG) in Beijing." 2015-65=1950, right?
That seems like a pretty robust source to me . . . Perhaps said ip user was the State Council Information Office of the People's Republic of China -- and they haven't bothered to get a wiki account (yet). Or hey, maybe it was Zhang Yimou himself! Note that the source on the official Beijing site is Zhang Yimou's wife's micro-blog.
Whoever pulled the November exploit made it into the imdb's "official" record too. Sheesh! That wasn't you, was it? Meanwhile, google's still hanging on, although they could very well be getting their data from the wiki and this particular dispute has yet to stabilize.
A good reminder never to trust anything you read on the internet. Triple check anything that really matters, from as close as you can get to the horse's mouth, and use your local library. I once checked a citation from wikipedia and it sent me to the index of a book in the library where said "factoid" wasn't even mentioned. Nada. Zip. No mention whatsover of alleged factoid. Fb2ts (talk) 15:47, 25 July 2017 (UTC)
ALSO: Please accept my apologies for not pointing this out the last time. I've never undone anything before. I will be wiser going forward. Fb2ts (talk) 15:58, 25 July 2017 (UTC)
I will triple check with my library's who's who - they're sure to have it. And I'll confirm what I find. OK? Fb2ts (talk) 16:02, 25 July 2017 (UTC)

The Plot Thickens[edit]

The reference librarian at what we used to think was the world's first public library got back to us already.

The 2016 Marquis Who's Who in the World gives Zhang Yimou's date of birth as 11-14-1951. The International Dictionary of Films and Filmmakers gives 11-14-1950. The New Biographical Dictionary of Film and the Historical Dictionary of Chinese Cinema only give a year of birth, but both give 1951. The introduction to Zhang Yimou: Interviews also gives the 11-14-1951 date, citing, apparently, Berry's Perspectives on Chinese Cinema. Most of the reference works to which the BPL offers electronic access reproduce the 11-14-1951 date, but some express uncertainty by giving the year as 1950/1951.

The email continues:

The ideal source if extant would be some kind of official birth record; see this article and the attached entry from the 2009 International Vital Records Handbook for some historical information and recommendations for pursuing Chinese vital records.

What do you think? Is that funny or what? The "attached entry" suggests that we contact

  1. The Ministry of Public Security (Snail Mail in Beijing) - I'm inclined to Circular File this one.
  2. The Genealogical Research Center at the the Shanghai Library - where they give an email address. That seems like a good lead.
  3. The Embassy of the People's Republic of China in Washington, DC (202) 328-2500 . . . hmmmm. I admit to being kinda curious.

And then we could see if we can get some kind of feedback from Zhang Yimou's wife, in lieu of an "Official Birth Record". Just because a self-described Official Outlet of the PRC says they got the date from her Chinese equivalent of a Facebook page, complete with a picture and what appear to be an aMAZingly fancy birthday cake, doesn't prove that it's REALLY Zhang Yimou's Wife's Chinese equivalent of a Facebook page - web security, photoshop and elaborate hoaxes being what they are - and even if it was her, she could be lying, for some reason, and trying to suggest that her husband is older than he actually is.

But then, maybe all those other sources just got the date from imdb... or Wikipedia before December 24, 2016.

Even though Google is currently giving the April 2, 1950 birthdate, maybe they just got it from Wikipedia - AFTER December 24, 2016.

Fb2ts (talk) 14:24, 27 July 2017 (UTC)

In this interview he says that he was 28 when he applied to the Beijing Film Academy and that was 1978 so it looks like we can agree that the year is 1950. So then only the date is left. DrKilleMoff (talk) 17:24, 29 July 2017 (UTC). It's strange that we can't find another news article that mentiones his birthday other the the one in

The Marquis Who's Who is apparently not what it used to be. On another note: I just noticed an Edit Request from 2014 (see above) that seems like it ought to be in the article. What do you think? Zhang Yimou heard about the program from gunpowder artist Cai Guo-Qiang, when they were working together on the Beijing 2008 Summer Olympics. He chose Palestinian Annemarie Jacir. The Edit Request links to an article with an interview of the mentor & protege (see below). Highly recommended. That's where I got the detail about selling his own blood to buy his first camera (which I just added). Fb2ts (talk) 19:36, 29 July 2017 (UTC)

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