Inflaming Sino-Japanese relations isn’t that hard a thing to do, but this does seem like an overreaction.
What it comes down to is a problem of representation. There
If you take the intended audience of the book as a cue, non-Asians in the Anglophone world, it probably doesn’t matter too much to the studio who plays the roles as long as the predominantly white audience is satisfied they could conceivably be Japanese.
I didn’t think the book was that interesting or well-written, it came across to me as a book written with the idea it should really be a film but must be a book first (cheaper and easier obviously).
Hard to balance up the Willing Suspension of Disbelief against the fact that we all know Gong Li is Chinese, but I think films are far too dependent on realism these days. If Gong Li’s (etc) Japanese is good enough then fine. If it’s going to all be in English, then, well, I don’t know what to say. Chinese people pretending to be Japanese speaking English to each other! Zat will be ferry like saam aff zee films I yoosed to vatch ass a keet!
Personally I think the casting was wrong. It seems like the studio bosses figured that all Asians look alike to white folk, so who cares. But Gong Li and Yeoh in particular do in fact look Chinese; Zhang could be either. If the Japanese made a movie supposedly about Italians, and cast all Swedish, I guess we’d feel it was ‘wrong’ or at least ridiculous as well.
Westerners have a hard enough time keeping the different cultures of Asia straight; why confuse them any more?
However, the big problem, much bigger than the casting, with this movie is this: it’s a nostalgic, romantic, big-budget Hollywood epic about children being sold into prostitution. WTF?
All I know is that her player a hooker is completely appropriate…
All joking aside, it was stupid. Why couldn’t they Japanese actors to portray Japanese? I agree with the criticism.
I don’t really care, but I agree.
I wouldn’t care either if I didn’t live in Asia and I didn’t know that Asian people get so many of their impressions of westerners from Hollyowood movies, which in this case make us look like we can’t tell the difference between Chinese and Japanese and aren’t interested in learning. There were no “big name” Japanese actresses available and big names are what sell movies so they used what the marketing department told them was the next best thing, three big name Chinese actresses. The more money you throw at a film the worse it often is.
He speaks the truth, my brothers.
[quote=“Chewycorns”]However, I don’t think there as many “star” Japanese actresses in the US. Furthermore, I think Chinese actresses usually have stronger “English” skills than their Japanese counterparts.
But casting Zhang Ziyi and Gong Li over any Japanese actress because of their fluency in English? Pshaw. Both of their English sucks. From what I read online, Gong Li had to learn her lines phonetically.
Though I guess to the average Western person, listening to a mainland Chinese speak in English with a strong Chinese accent would sound more Japanese than, say, a Hongkie speaking fluent English with a perfect Queen’s English accent, much like how Maggie Cheung or Karen Mok speak. Or [shiver] Lucy Liu’s nasal American accent.
Anyhow, I think casting across ethnic lines is something to laugh at rather than get offended over. (I mean, what the hell is John Turturro? A Jew? A Mexican? An Italian?)
I’ll be interested to see how they turn this book, which is about the selling into sexual slavery of a pre-pubescent Japanese girl, into any kind of film at all. There’s not much to the book other than, “Ooh, look what the Japanese used to do! Golly!” and it’s not well written. It will trade on the fact that we have an American writing about Asians for a market of white Americans and Europeans who would have difficulty finding Japan on a map. A sort of new James Clavell, except thank God not as verbose. We can see how much attention is being paid to authenticity with the selection of actors. Do people here really think there are no Japanese actors who can speak English? Wow.
I think the film will be hilarious. Presumably the dialogue will be in English. So, I wonder will it follow the war movie style of each character saying a few lines in Japanese and then launching into heavily German-accented, sorry, “Japanese-accented” English for the rest of the film? Why Chinese actresses? So Gong Li and that Zhang “I’ll Shag Any Director That Gets My Talentless Ass Into A Film” Ziyi are famous Chinese actresses. So I guess the criteria for the studio was any famous actress from Asia who will speak English with a thick accent. I presume the main reason US actresses couldn’t be used is that their English would be too good! Obviosuly I am assuming here that the studio doesn’t think these actors are capable of putting on an accent.
Anyway, this is hardly a new thing. We’ve had Chinese, Japanese, and Koreans playing (with ) each other for years on the screen.
Don’t forget . . . the DUKE as . . .
[url=http://www.somareview.com/genghis_khan.cfm]In the hilariously bad 1956 film, The Conqueror, John Wayne played Genghis Khan in what one critic called
And of course an all-time classic casting choice, ABC / Warner Brothers passing Bruce Lee over for…
David Carradine as Shaolin monk Kwai Chang Caine!!!
The studio did try to explain him away as being half American / half Chinese, and Carradine did squint in order to make his Chinese half more noticeable…
“Mis-casting” in Hollywood goes way back…Sidney Toler, as Charlie Chan.
And of course Fu Manchu, the insidious villain of Sax Rohmer novels, played in film by a whole host of Caucasian actors, including
And Christopher Lee in this ever-so-ironically titled film…
Anyway, this is hardly a new thing. We’ve had Chinese, Japanese, and Koreans playing (with ) each other for years on the screen.[/quote]
While this is very true, I think the point for some will be that this kind of ignorance should be a thing of the past.
But then again we had that ugly Ausie Kidman playing a frontier woman in a really awful movie where Ton Cruise was supposed to be a straight man and you could tell from the sun set that they were actually travelling East and not West… what was the name of that abomination…
Far and Away.
So yeah, I guess being a moron is on par for many directors.
And of course an all-time classic casting choice, ABC / Warner Brothers
David Carradine as Shaolin monk Kwai Chang Caine!!!
The studio did try to explain him away as being half American / half Chinese, and Carradine did squint in order to make his Chinese half more noticeable…[/quote]
Really? I watched that as a kid and never realized he was supposed to be Asian.
So maybe considering Hollywood
Arthur Golden based the novel on the life of Mineko Iwasaki. She sued his ass and won.
Let me see… white american from Tennessee write book about japanese geisha make film in heavily accented english with chinese cast…
This is probably the most American movie that’s come out this year.
And then there was Red Foxx playing Fred Sanford…shown here with his “son” Lamont.
“You big dummy!”
I can’t wait for ZZ Top to do a film about the KMT and CCP fighting the Japanese. My only question is who would Frank Beard play?
Someone without a hair growing out of his mole?