China Daily (December 14th, 2011)

INTERVIEW WITH BALE: YIMOU IS A LIVING WARRIOR

The star of ‘The Flowers Of War’, the Oscar winning “Batman” actor gave an exclusive interview to our reporter. Before the interview with Bale, Zhang Yimou specifically told reporters that this is a rare opportunity since Bale is leaving tomorrow (14th), and there are a lot of things to ask him.

China Daily: Yesterday I saw you on the red carpet with your wife. Has she already seen the movie?

Bale: She hasn’t seen the movie; I’ve only seen it once myself. I watch a movie specifically to see the performances, like a spectator. I don’t want to hear other people’s evaluation of a scene or be influenced by others. It’s not the time for my wife to see the movie yet. She’s always very supportive of me, in anything I do.

China Daily: In ‘The Flowers of War’ you have a beard which you shave off afterwards. Does it bother you?

Bale: I don’t feel bad about it, because I often grow a beard. My daughter likes it, so I often leave it.

China Daily: China Daily reported yesterday that when you were shooting the film, you had a tour in the Xi’an Terracotta Warriors. Now that you are in China for a long time, how is your interest in Chinese culture?

Bale: In my opinion, every country would be interested in this country’s culture. ‘The Flowers of War’ was shot it Lishui, Jiangsu, a place relatively far from the city. As for tourism, we visited a few places. I visited Beijing for a couple of days, and also went to Terracotta Warriors in Xi’an to read, but I only spent 6 hours there.

China Daily: The director and I are also from Xi’an.

Bale: I know, the director told me that in a friendly discussion.

China Daily: How do you feel about the Warriors?

Bale: I especially like the Terracotta Warriors and Horses -I also tried to steal one (laughs)-, and finally found out that in the 1970s, local farmers found Terracotta Warriors and Horses. After that, I went to the Terracotta Warriors in Xi’an, saw the mosque, I was very impressed, and liked it a lot.

China Daily: Zhang Yimou, the director didn’t he feel like a handsome terracotta warrior?

Bale: Yes, you’re right. He is a living terracotta warrior; it’s as if the terracotta image is carved out of him.

China Daily: What do you think of the level of English used in the movie by director Zhang Yimou? […?]

Bale: Director Zhang actually knows English, but many in the team don’t. Zhang has no reason for a translator, especially when I perform well, and when he cannot understand, he just says “tell me again.”[??]

China Daily: In an interview to foreign media you said that, when filming, you detected a bit of a dictatorship in Zhang Yimou, is that right?

Bale: In almost all the world, the director is the director, they say they are the most authoritative. Zhang is not a very dictatorial director, we discuss character changes and how the relationships are developed. Zhang the director has his own ideas, he will listen to some of my suggestions, and if two people agree on some things, this will be shot. Then I will give several options and they will get to select their prefered clip. If the director was a dictator in this case, I could say that I don’t understand your Chinese, I don’t know what you’re talking about. So this part in him is really small. The directors must have their own vision, have their own ideas, and not listen to the views of others.

China Daily: Are you familiar with Zhang Yimou’s work before this movie? Besides “Raise the Red Lantern” of course.

Bale: I haven’t seen the “Amazing Tales: Three Guns,” but I’ve seen “Red Sorghum”, “House of Flying Daggers,” “Hero,” “Curse of the Golden Flower.” When I’m in a place far from my home, to rent a DVD is a special treat. I’ve read a lot of reviews about some of the director’s movies.

Chinese translation by Dina.