The Great Wall director Zhang Yimou addresses Matt Damon 'racist' casting

'The Great Wall is the opposite of what is being suggested'

Jack Shepherd
Friday 05 August 2016 08:54
The Great Wall - Trailer

The trailer for The Great Wall caused controversy late last month after critics claimed the film “perpetuating the racist myth that [only a] white man can save the world.”

In the English-language film directed by Zhang Yimou, Damon plays a European soldier who fights monsters on the Great Wall of China.

Fresh off the Boat actor Constance Wu was one of the first to express her anger publicly, followed by numerous other actors who derided the film as another example of Hollywood ‘whitewashing’.

Yimou has since defended the film, stating how “The Great Wall is the opposite of what is being suggested.”

In an interview with EW, he said: “For the first time, a film deeply rooted in Chinese culture, with one of the largest Chinese casts ever assembled, is being made at tent pole scale for a world audience.

“Our film is not about the construction of the Great Wall,” Zhang told the publication. “Matt Damon is not playing a role that was originally conceived for a Chinese actor.

“The arrival of his character in our story is an important plot point. There are five major heroes in our story and he is one of them — the other four are all Chinese. The collective struggle and sacrifices of their heroes are the emotional heart of our film.

“As the director of 20 Chinese language films and the Beijing Olympics, I have not and will not cast a film in a way that was untrue to my artistic vision”

The Great Wall, which hits cinemas in 2017, marks the most expensive film ever shot entirely in China, having a budget of $135 million. Meanwhile, the past weeks have seen numerous films lambasted with whitewashing critiques, including Doctor Strange and The Ghost in the Shell.

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There is also a campaign to prevent casting Leonardo DiCaprio as Persian poet Rumi has built steam, the petition calling on producers not to 'rewrite history' by casting a white actor.

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