China's leading lady Tang Wei deemed too racy to star in Mao movie

The brief rehabilitation of Chinese actress Tang Wei, who was purged for her steamy role in Ang Lee's erotic thriller Lust, Caution, seems to be over, after Chairman Mao's grandson intervened to have her cut out of the propaganda epic The Founding of a Party.

It appears that the actress has been edited out of the soon-to-be-released film on the wishes of the family of the late Mao, the first leader of the People's Republic of China. Ms Tang played Tao Yi, an early girlfriend of Mao's, in the movie, which was made to mark this year's 90th anniversary of the Communist Party's foundation. The film is due to open in mid-June.

Ms Tang was still in a version of the film that has been shown to various industry figures in recent weeks, but sources who asked to remain anonymous said it looked pretty certain that she has since been dropped because of objections by the Great Helmsman's grandson, Mao Xinyu, a Major-General in the People's Liberation Army.

There has been widespread speculation online too. The film director He Ping wrote on his blog: "There was a little girl acting in the film, but her part was all deleted," referring to Ms Tang..

The families of historical figures have considerable influence in China, and people regularly take legal action against fictional works that might cast a family name in bad light. It is possible that Mao Xinyu did not wish any links between his grandfather and an actress who shot to fame on the strength of her performance in a movie which contained considerable nudity and violent sex. A couple of years ago, the family of the Chinese opera star Mei Lanfang also brought considerable pressure to bear on the makers of the Forever Enthralled biopic.

China Film Group spokesperson Jiang Defu would not confirm or deny that Ms Teng's part was on the cutting-room floor, saying only that several parts had been deleted in the final cut, and nothing was sure until the movie hit the screens.

The Founding of a Party deals with the three phases of the setting-up of the Communist Party, which still runs China as a single-party state and has 78 million members. The role of the young Mao is played by the heartthrob Liu Ye, and the film is part of the Communist Party's efforts to present a modern image. Mao remains a powerful force in China. His face adorns every banknote and his portrait looms over Beijing's Tiananmen Square. The past few years have been a rollercoaster ride for Ms Tang, who was purged in 2007 for her erotic role as the lover of a collaborator in Japanese-occupied Shanghai in Lust, Caution.

The Founding of a Party is expected to make major waves at the Chinese box office after the huge success of The Founding of a Republic, an epic tribute to the 1949 revolution, which was the top-performing Chinese movies two years ago. It's also a high-profile blast of nationalism at a time when the Chinese film business is booming, taking in £930m at the box office last year. The film also features some of Hong Kong's top actors. Andy Lau stars as the warlord and revolutionary Cai E and Chow Yun-fat as Yuan Shikai.

China makes dozens of propaganda films every year, but most of them fail to make a ripple beyond China's borders, and are met with indifference by the broader audience even within China. But The Founding of a Republic transformed the Chinese propaganda movie in that it was of higher quality than the usual fare.

Chinese film censorship

Sex

In 2007, Ang Lee's erotic drama 'Lust, Caution' was shown without most of its sex scenes – although uncensored pirate versions were widely available online.



Politics

Hollywood films that are seen to portray China negatively are censored or banned, as are locally produced films that imply criticism of the government.



Time travel

The recent fashion for television costume dramas featuring time travel prompted the government last month to issue a formal warning against scientifically unsound plot lines in dramas.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Junior Web Designer - Client Liaison

£6 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity to join a gro...

Recruitment Genius: Service Delivery Manager

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Service Delivery Manager is required to join...

Recruitment Genius: Massage Therapist / Sports Therapist

£12000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A opportunity has arisen for a ...

Ashdown Group: Practice Accountant - Bournemouth - £38,000

£32000 - £38000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful accountancy practice in...

Day In a Page

Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, DJ Taylor
How to make your own Easter egg: Willie Harcourt-Cooze shares his chocolate recipes

How to make your own Easter egg

Willie Harcourt-Cooze talks about his love affair with 'cacao' - and creates an Easter egg especially for The Independent on Sunday
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef declares barbecue season open with his twist on a tradtional Easter Sunday lamb lunch

Bill Granger's twist on Easter Sunday lunch

Next weekend, our chef plans to return to his Aussie roots by firing up the barbecue
Joe Marler: 'It's the way I think the game should be played'

Joe Marler: 'It's the way I think the game should be played'

The England prop relives the highs and lows of last Saturday's remarkable afternoon of Six Nations rugby
Cricket World Cup 2015: Has the success of the tournament spelt the end for Test matches?

Cricket World Cup 2015

Has the success of the tournament spelt the end for Test matches?
The Last Word: Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing