Curse of the Golden Flower (Blu-ray) (Widescreen) product details page

Curse of the Golden Flower (Blu-ray) (Widescreen)

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Curse of the Golden Flower has its work cut out for it in terms of audience expectations. It will disappoint viewers hoping for Chow Yun-Fat to take them on a high-kicking martial arts thrill ride, but if you go into the movie expecting more of a Shakespearian tragedy than a wushu adventure, this epic tale is sure to impress.While it's true that Golden Flower can feel stilted and murky compared to director Zhang Yimou's more enthralling movies like Hero and Raise the Red Lantern, it's still an incredibly textured, multi-dimensional narrative. The opulent costumes and art direction are dazzling enough to keep you transfixed, but as brooding as the mood can be, the story is still eloquent and moving. The twists and turns of who is double crossing whom can get a little confusing, but the film still manages to gracefully run the gamut from an intimate melodrama to a symbolic yarn about human nature. Both of these readings hinge on a plot about a tenth century Chinese royal family that struggles within the confines of the extremely insulated palace through poisonings, attempted coups, and possibly incestuous affairs. All that drama might sound a little too much like a soap opera, and sometimes it is, but the emphasis is on the opera. This is a larger-than-life fable about how the power and isolation of courtly life removes all frame of reference from the lives of royals, so that destructive acts of greater and greater excess and insanity become reasonable.Zhang does an excellent job of imparting that sequestered feeling, making the viewer feel just as confined as the characters, who are almost never depicted outside the narrow corridors, paper-thin walls, and overwhelming ornamentation of the palace. This is the same isolation that fuels a story like Hamlet, where only after their warped hate and paranoia leads most of the characters to kill each other off does the absurdity of the last two bloody hours hit home. While a literal translation of the film's original Chinese title is something along the lines of "The Whole City Is Covered in Golden Armor," the American-release title of the film is extremely telling with regard to the story's meaning. The gold chrysanthemum was a flower symbolic of nobleness and royalty in ancient China, and thus the inherent calamity, betrayal, and misfortune that befall those who wear the crown could easily be called the curse of the golden flower. It's a familiar tale, but a good one, especially when told with such style. Cammila Albertson, All Movie Guide

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