Posted on Thursday, November 8th, 2018 by Siddhant Adlakha
It’s hard to talk about Shadow without mentioning Zhang Yimou’s previous effort, Matt Damon-starrer The Great Wall, from which it could not feel more different. While the latter was accused of whitewashing based on the trailers, its true nature was much more troubling: backed by China Film Group, The Great Wall was a very literal propaganda movie about the West accepting the superior might of the Chinese military. It was also effective as a piece of pop filmmaking, with soldiers in candy-coloured armour fighting off jade green alien invaders (no, really), as if filtering the palette of his House of Flying Daggers through a million computers, which makes this new bare-bones approach to period drama a notable directorial 180.
For one thing, Shadow features almost no colour. That is to say, it’s a film shot in colour, but featuring mostly by black and white and grey, but more so than its stripped-down production design, it features a far more stripped-down ethos, to the point that little in the film actually matters. Take away Chinese government money, and you’re left with a Zhang who doesn’t need to deliver a specific message; so he doesn’t, by design, for better and for worse.