Okay, only in California and New York, but…. The great Chinese detective/magistrate and statesman, famous in history, legend, and Mr. Van Gulik’s books, is back on the big screen!
Detective Dee and the Mystery of the Phantom Flame on Ain’t It Cool News, with a YouTube interview link. You can find the trailer and many clips on YouTube also.
The US movie website. They’ve only got the first month of release sites. Those of us in non-major non-coastal cities usually need to keep checking back.
I should warn people that this film treats Empress Wu sympathetically. The traditional view of Empress Wu is that she was very shrewd and picked her servants wisely, but was also an extremely cruel and wicked dictator who would stop at nothing. Sort of like Queen Elizabeth I — very interesting, as long as you live hundreds of years later and aren’t liable to be killed or tortured in horrendous ways by her. (And of course, it was much safer not to be in her family.)
And yes, the modern government of the Socialist Republic of China is busily whitewashing all the cruel and evil rulers of Chinese history. National pride, only Western rulers are evil, blah blah blah. However, it’s true that if you’re going to present Judge Dee the statesman working for Wu, you either have to explain the extreme Chinese Confucian sense of duty to country, or make everybody in charge nicey-nicey. I think we know where modern moviemakers go…
But maybe I’m wrong here. Maybe this is Empress Wu’s good side. And it’s true that a lot of women in Chinese history are viewed with sexist bias. But there’s a lot of difference between, say, burying Hatshepsut’s memory, and being a tad upset about Wu’s body count. Women can be evil tyrants, too.
Anyway, ignore my cynical harumphs and focus on Judge Dee. Deeeeeeeeee.