SARFT responds to public criticism of "Geisha
By Zhang Kun
The Hollywood movie "Memoirs of a Geisha" will not be
premiered in China on February 19, as originally planned, the China
Film Company has said.
The dubbing of the movie has been stopped at the Shanghai Film Dubbing
Studio. The China Film Company confirmed that the movie will not
be shown in Chinese mainland cinemas in the near future.
The movie, from director Rob Marshall ("Chicago"), stars
three top Chinese actresses (Michelle Yeoh is Malaysian, but her
movie career has mainly been in Chinese Hong Kong).
Strong criticism from the Chinese public accompanied the making
of the movie, ever since Steven Spielberg first became interested
in making it, with Maggie Cheung playing the heroine.
People have criticized Zhang Ziyi for taking the role of a Japanese
prostitute. A comment on Eastday.com reads: "I was injured
in the 'War of Resistance against Japan' and I won't go to see a
movie like that."
Columbia Pictures, the distributor of the movie, was aware of the
sensitivity of the subject. A formal copy was sent to China in advance
to be played to officials from the SARFT (State Administration of
Radio, Film and Television).
According to the Shanghai Youth Daily, the movie passed the SARFT
inspection, and Shanghai Film Dubbing Studio started to work on
the translation. Gong Li and Zhang Ziyi both agreed to dub their
own roles in the Chinese version. But then the translated script
was sent to SARFT for further inspection, and this time failed to
receive a notice of approval.
"You say it passed the inspection, where is the proof?"
said Gu Min, a staff member of the Shanghai United Circuit, the
largest film distributor in town. "A movie receives a licence
if it passes the inspection, but so far, we haven't seen the licence
for this movie," he explained.
According to the Shanghai Youth Daily, the largest obstacle to the
movie's release in China is that the government is afraid that the
film content may outrage the audience. SARFT has been receiving
letters from the public almost every day protesting against the
movie's release in the Chinese mainland.
Ironically, pirate copies of the movie have been available in the
local market since early January. Viewers left a variety of messages
on the Internet: "The rhythm is too slow. Several women had
a lengthy conversation at the beginning, made me sleepy." "Bad
plot and characters, didn't carry out the cultural connotation of
Gong, a star in the movie, won higher applause from local audiences
for her performance than the heroine, Zhang.
"The movie has received lots of public attention. It would
be a shame if it can't be shown," said a staff member from
the United Circuit.