Zhen Guan Chang Ge
|Zhen Guan Chang Ge|
DVD cover art
|Also known as||'The Story of Zhen Guan'|
|Written by||Zhou Zhifang|
|Directed by||Wu Ziniu|
|Presented by||Zhu Tong
|Ending theme||Zhen Guan Chang Ge (贞观长歌) performed by Zhang Lanlan|
|Country of origin||China|
|No. of episodes||82|
|Location(s)||Hengdian World Studios
|Running time||45 minutes per episode|
|Production company(s)||1. Emei Film Production Factory
2. China Central Television Cultural Arts Centre
3. Zhongwai Mingren Culture Property Corporation
4. Beijing Jinxiu Jiangshan Film Culture Broadcasting Company
|First shown in||27 January 2007|
|Zhen Guan Chang Ge|
|Literal meaning||Song of Zhenguan|
Zhen Guan Chang Ge is a Chinese historical television series directed by Wu Ziniu. It was first aired on CCTV-1 in China in 2007. The series is based on the events in the Zhenguan era of the reign of Emperor Taizong during the Tang dynasty.
In 626, during the Tang dynasty, Li Shimin assassinated two of his brothers, Li Jiancheng and Li Yuanji, at the Incident at Xuanwu Gate. Two months later, he ascended the throne as Emperor Taizong, and named his era of reign "Zhenguan". Taizong had to deal with external threats from the aggressive Tujue in the north and bring peace and prosperity to his empire. Under Taizong's rule, China flourished in various aspects and the Zhenguan era is considered one of the golden ages in Chinese history.
Tang imperial court
On 28 January 2007, one day after Zhen Guan Chang Ge premiered on CCTV-1, many negative comments about the drama surfaced on the Internet, targeting issues ranging from the actors' costumes and filming locations to inconsistencies with historical sources. On the same day, Wu Ziniu responded in an interview that he believed that the negative comments were untrue and were intentionally created to reduce ratings, because Zhen Guan Chang Ge was competing for viewership with other similar television series such as Zhen Guan Zhi Zhi. Wu said, "(This is) an 82 episodes long television series, I suggest audiences watch first before commenting."
Some points raised by Internet users include:
- The costumes worn by the actors were not from any period in Chinese history, and the architecture of the palace resembled that of the Han dynasty instead of the Tang dynasty. Wu Ziniu replied that he sought advice from experts on the Tang dynasty for the costumes and props, and his consultants included the president of the Chinese Tang Dynasty History Research Association (中国唐史研究会) and seven history professors from Peking, Renmin and Beijing Normal universities.
- Tang Guoqiang (then 53), who portrayed Emperor Taizong, was too old for his role because the emperor was 29 when he came to the throne. Others pointed out that Zhang Tielin's character Luo Yi was too overbearing, and resembled Zhang's portrayal of the Qianlong Emperor in My Fair Princess. Wu Ziniu responded that the age problem had been "corrected" when Emperor Taizong's eldest son, Li Chengqian (who historically was a child when his father became emperor), was portrayed by Wan Hongjie as a man in his early 20s. Wu also replied that since Luo Yi was a rebel general, it was normal for him to behave arrogantly.
- Even though Zhen Guan Chang Ge was labelled as a historical television series, it was very similar to other costume dramas centring on themes of political intrigues and power struggles, and this could be misleading to audiences. Wu Ziniu felt that this comment was ridiculous because only two episodes of Zhen Guan Chang Ge had been aired at the time so viewers would not have seen the "politics" parts yet. Wu admitted that Zhen Guan Chang Ge does have themes of war, action, conspiracy, romance, etc. that are present in many other television series, but the political intrigues in Zhen Guan Chang Ge are "artistic recreations" based on history, so this makes the drama worth watching.
- Only one line about Princess Ankang (played by Zhang Lanlan) was recorded in historical texts. Volume 83 of the New Book of Tang stated, "Princess Ankang, married Dugu Mou." However, in Zhen Guan Chang Ge, the princess is featured as a semi-fictional female protagonist. Wu Ziniu mentioned that he chose her from Emperor Taizong's many children because she was representative of princesses in that era. Wu also stated that he did not pick Princess Gaoyang, a better known daughter of Emperor Taizong, because audiences are more familiar with her due to her illicit affair with the monk Bianji, and because her actions are seen as morally wrong.
- Empress Zhangsun (played by Han Zaifen) was described in historical texts to be a virtuous and wise woman who played a supportive role to her husband, Emperor Taizong. However, in Zhen Guan Chang Ge she is depicted as a jealous and petty wife, and a mother who overindulges her son, Li Chengqian. Audiences find this hard to accept. Screenwriter Zhou Zhifang replied that he wanted Empress Zhangsun to appear more realistic, because it is natural for a wife to feel jealous when her husband loves another woman, and for a mother to unknowingly spoil her son when she showers too much care on him.