25 May 2008

Chinese film on Kings and their Ambitons: Forget people

By Harsha Man Maharjan

There is a hope in Nepali people for 28th May 2008. Parliament will declare Nepal a republic on that day. So we are evaluating the role played by Shah Dynasty in Nepal.

In this context, Martin Chautari screened a Chinese film by Chen Kaige, The Emperor and the Assassin (161 mins, 1999, China) at its premises, Thapathali, Kathmandu, Nepal on 22 May 2008. Kaige is a member of Fifth generation Chinese directors. These directors use new film language and different plot than their elders. They revisited Chinese history and brought facets of history not presented by the establishment.

The Emperor and the Assassin is about Ying Zheng, king of the kingdom of Qin; his lover Zhao and his assassin Jink Ke. Zheng unified seven kingdoms of China in 221 BC. In this way we can compare Zheng with kings and queens of Shah dynasty who unified small principalities and kingdoms geographically. As in the case of Zheng, Shah rulers could not unified Nepali culturally.

So this film tells how Zheng’s lover goes to the kingdom of Yan being a spy. She has to find an assassin for the king of Yan. This assassin needs for killing Zheng. In this way Zheng and his lover hatch a plot to abort his assassination.
But watching inhuman treatment and massacre of people of the kingdom of Zhao she starts to hate Zheng and love the assassin.

At the end of film the assassins’ attempt of assassination fails and Zhao goes to Zheng to take the assassin’s dead body.

This film is a story of kings and their ambitions. It tells how general people suffer in the process of “nation building”. These power-hungry emperors hope that their unification process would bring peace and prosperity in general peoples’ live but their action does nothing but suffering.

Does that mean the process of nation building unnecessary? I have no answer. What I can say is that in this process people of enemy kingdoms are brutally killed, tortured. And in some cases their culture are destroyed. These scars of the suffering will remain for ever. So I think the film’s story of kings and their ambitions are universal.

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