CHINA / National

Titanic challenge for Spielberg, Zhang
By Raymond Zhou (China Daily)
Updated: 2006-04-18 05:56

Two of the titans of the film world sat down yesterday afternoon in Beijing and discussed the meaning of films and the goals they want to achieve with the medium.

steven spielberg
Steven Spielberg
Steven Spielberg, who was on Sunday named the artistic adviser for the 2008 Olympic opening and closing ceremonies, and Zhang Yimou, who has been appointed chief director for the same events, revealed their mutual admiration in a special programme taped by CCTV's Movie Channel.

China Daily helped design the questions as well as set parameters for the conversation.

"I've seen all your movies," enthused Zhang. He started with the "Indiana Jones" series and graduated to "E.T." and "Jaws"; and said "Schindler's List" and "Saving Private Ryan" touched a deep chord with "their depictions of human suffering."

"Raise the Red Lantern" was the first Chinese film Spielberg happened to see. "It exposed me to a culture I didn't know anything about and I felt drawn to the characters." And yesterday, he bought a DVD set of Zhang's works and asked him for an autograph. Zhang inscribed: "To my favourite film director and an old friend."

Talking about Zhang's movies, he said that he could completely understand what is going on even if he does not look at the English subtitles.

Both Spielberg and Zhang agreed that films are fundamentally about human emotions, which transcend languages and cultures.

In "Munich," Spielberg approached the Israeli-Palestinian conflict with a sense of mission: to encourage both sides to communicate with each other. Zhang's "Riding Alone for Thousands of Miles" is also about the importance of communication between generations, languages and nations.

"Munich" has more depth than "Riding," noted Zhang, who is saddened by the hostilities between different cultures.
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