You know that a film has had a lasting effect on you when you feel compelled to own it, protect it and keep it safe forever, like a treasure thats true worth no one understands but you. There are a number of films that have this effect on me, they are an obscure collection seemingly unrelated yet connected by the fact that they move me in one way or another. One of these films is Hero, directed by Yimou Zhang and starring Jet Li, a chinese martial art film. It comes complete with the bizarre gravity defying characters, the awkward fighting grunts and moans, and the rather dodgy english voice dubbing over the top.
You may detect a lingering tone of sarcasm in my writing and I do apologise. Until I first watched Hero I found martial art films amusing at best. I certainly never looked towards the genre in search of beauty or design. This film however made me begin to see that the sheer artistry of these films is overlooked by the majority of western culture.
Hero is so visually appealing that it could have the most unoriginal, boring plot line ever and still capture your senses in every way. That is not to say that the plot is unoriginal. On the contrary; the film is constructed by layers of fiction that intertwine in a unique and unpredictable way, but this only adds to what is already a work of art. Every scene and setting is meticulously designed with colour, composition and pattern in mind. Watching this film is like eating a rich and luxurious meal in which every taste, every flavour, hits your pallet in tingly waves of pleasure, each more delicious and satisfying than the first. Let me attempt to create a sort of verbal trailer for you.
In one scene, two figures are engaged in elegant combat, suspended on the surface of a great glass lake. Reflected perfectly in the serene water is the surrounding landscape. Graceful sleeping mountains and wooded foothills provide a background tapestry of smoky violet heather and pine.
The warriors are bound by an unspoken honour. They must fight yet neither one aims to harm the other. They dance on the brim in an effortless serenity. Once or twice their blades pierce the surface, carving delicate satin patterns in the icy water.
The scene is accompanied by deep and beautifully lonesome string music. The slow and quivering sound seems to echo the voices of the mountains yet also imitate the inner crying of a burdened heart. There is suspense in the battle yet the ashen lavender colours and the liquid choreography lull you into feeling wonderfully at peace.
In a contrasting battle scene two women robed in red, fly at each other in fitful bursts of emotion and pain. Their movements are erratic yet still manage to flow into one another in an angry symmetry. Their battleground is a golden beach tree coppice. The air is thick with amber leaves as the restless wind rips them from the trees, and weaves them around the fighting enemies. The rush of red against the flurry of yellow mirrors the aggression of combat.
A fatal blow is dealt and, in sympathy, the vast canopies and their departing leaves blend into blood red. The scene is saturated in crimson and the two bodies are engulfed in the storm of flying foliage, becoming one with their fiery surroundings.
Now form an image in your mind of a colossal iron throne room, stretching out in every direction. Hanging from the vast ceiling are endless rows of green silk sheets transforming the hall into an elaborate fabric forest. The cloth seems to breathe with the movement of the air and ripples like silky water as a deadly assassin passes through the green maze. He has arrived to kill the emperor of this iron palace and as his foe reveals himself in the midst of emerald swathes he readies his sword.
Theirs is a battle of disguise and deception. The two assailants move tactfully through the fabric, exposed one moment, hidden the next. When their swords meet the crash of metal rings out through the expanse sending satin waves of green across the hanging canopies.
The combat intensifies to the sound of steady drumming. There is a quick succession of aggressive maneuvers and then the emperor’s sword departs from his hand in agonising slow motion. His eyes flicker with defiance but he knows he has lost.
He waits for the final blow. The drumming has stopped, all is silence.
In one movement all the silk sheets fall peacefully to the floor in a verdigris waterfall. The assassin is reveled to us, he has turned away and is pacing calmly towards the entrance. The emperor is alive. The assassin has decided to spare him, and the mystery behind this act of mercy will go on to change the course of the whole story.
These are just small snippets from Hero but I hope that my words have been successful in tempting you into the film’s world of intrigue and beauty. Hopefully now you are eager to watch it, just as I am eager to rush home and check that it is still secure in its little niche, alongside all the other cinematic treasures that I keep there.
Might I say, this food is so scrunch!
It’s scroobious, droolious,
With such a lickity crunch.
Yumptious, plumtious, trumily umptious.
Honestly, it’s a delicious lunch.
Then there’s this wine.
It’s so smooly and lefine.
Velvy, so suave.
Sippingly ploomy and divine.
Yes. This is, indeed, good wine.
Now of the pudding I’ll say this:
What a rish dish delish!
It’s so silky and lummy,
Truly scrum nummy.
Rummily sugarly puddy, so swish.
Tell me, is there more of this dish?
Suspense is a whisper
or perhaps something crisper.
A crackle of air,
that tickles your hair.
Slow motion blinking
a slip, drip, drop ticking
Velvety waves slowly leaving
the lungs, the lips, the tongue,
all that has past
as if it had never been there.
time flows freely
and you forget the feeling
of that crispy, crackly air.
stops me from lying.
Betraying my meaning
no speaking, no crying.
Thick air between us,
clearer than sound.
It's heavy with truth,
this silence we've found.
Do you believe in the human soul? No?
Then be clever. Someone is willing to pay you money for something that does not exist.
Intrigued? The person I am working for of wants your soul. I know, its laughable. But here I am talking to you on his behalf.
Needless to say, the wording and general direction of this ad are far from what he envisaged. After all, this is a man who is willing to give away money for imaginary items.
‘Write an advertisement,’ he said to me. ‘Make them sell their souls.’
Ok. While I’m at it shall I ask if any of them are selling any unicorn hair, or bloody sparkly fairy dust? Honestly.
Before you panic, don’t worry. My client can’t read. Nor does he have any friends who will read this to him. He told me some nonsense about being “above the need to meddle with the insignificant mortal manners of communication.” I mean come on, he is clearly not all there.
Anyway, I must apologise, I am side tracking. You can understand why, I’m still laughing now at this whole scenario.
But, here’s the thing; This man is seriously willing to give you money for your “soul.” I feel ridiculous saying it, but why don’t you play along? Can’t you spot a fantastic opportunity when you see one? Just sign a piece of paper and its done. Yes, it is in blood. But that’s just to humour the old fellow. Whats a small pinprick compared to the prospects of living the rest of your life in luxury?
Forget the fictional stories about selling your soul, they’re fairy tales. We all know that. This is a loony old man, with too much cash rolling around, and a very distorted perception of reality. Contact him. Meet him. Sign this measly piece of paper and be rich. Why the hell not?
I did it and I can guarantee the money is real. I am receiving regular payments of over £500,000 for my so called “soul,” and I am living the dream.
What a crackpot. Souls don’t exist. If they did he would probably be controlling me right now and telling me what to write. And I don’t think he would be calling himself a crackpot now, would he?
I am my own person and so will you be when you sign over your soul.
Ok thats enough. I’m laughing so much, I’m dying over here.