Character Assassination?

Empire Building and Cultural Pathology in Chen Kaige's The Emperor and the Assassin

Article appearing in Film & History, Volume 38, Issue 2

This article presents a criticism of the motion picture “The Emperor and the Assassin,” directed by Chen Kaige and starring Li Gong and Xuejian Li. The article discusses critics who have applauded Kaige’s orchestration of epic spectacles but find the alternation between epic scenes and intimate scenes disconcerting. The article explains how repressive silence, the concealed shame of family, the cover up of political crimes, and the collective disregard for historical atrocities exist at the center of the Chinese historical consciousness. A plot synopsis of the film is also presented.