Zhang Yimou – Shadow

Those familiar with the wuxia genre will already know the narrative beats in Zhang Yimou’s Shadow. Simply put, Shadow is a story of love and betrayal wrapped up in political intrigue and martial strife. Deng Chao plays Commander Ziyu and Ziyu’s double—or his “shadow”—Jingzhou. Grievously injured in battle years prior to the story, Ziyu manipulates Jingzhou into instigating a war between their home kingdom of Pei and the neighboring rival kingdom of Yang. Ziyu’s goal: to usurp the throne. Of interest here is how Yimou weaves Shadow as an inverse to his mega-hit Hero (2002). Whereas Hero sports striking reds, blues, and greens, Shadow is awash in blacks, whites, and grays of its own striking proportion. Everything here, from clothing to landscapes, is drowned of color. Yet, it’s not as if the film was merely run through an Instagram filter. Rather than paint the film as drab, Yimou’s shades pop of individualism accentuated by both choreography and cinematography. Who cares about the logistics of plot when a film looks as beautiful as this?

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