【英语中国】法国导演为拍《狼图腾》在中国养狼 To Film ‘Wolf Totem,’ French Director Raised Chinese Wolves

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2014-5-29 21:56

小艾摘要: Jean Jacques Annaud had a chance to direct 'Life of Pi,' a 2012 film that went on to win four Academy Awards. Instead, the French of director of 'Seven Years in Tibet,' 'The Name of the Rose' and 'Ene ...
To Film 'Wolf Totem,' French Director Raised Chinese Wolves
Jean Jacques Annaud had a chance to direct 'Life of Pi,' a 2012 film that went on to win four Academy Awards.

Instead, the French of director of 'Seven Years in Tibet,' 'The Name of the Rose' and 'Enemy at the Gates' says he declined the offer from Hollywood and instead decided to helm 'Wolf Totem,' based on the bestselling and influential Chinese novel.

The novel, published in China in 2004, tells a story of a young student sent from Beijing during the Cultural Revolution to work as a shepherd in the countryside of Inner Mongolia, where he encountered wolves in the wild. Mr. Annaud said that when he read a French translation five years ago, he saw himself in the book.

'The same year the novelist was sent to Mongolia, I was sent to Africa in the same way,' said the 70-year-old filmmaker, who was sent to Cameroon for military services. 'I found the people there and their life together with nature were so fascinating and the experience changed my life.'

The 3-D film is scheduled to be released in China in December, with most dialogue in Chinese and some in Mongolian.

Yangtze River Art and Literature Publishing House says it has sold about five million copies of 'Wolf Totem' in Chinese and estimates that another 16 million pirated copies have been sold. It has been translated into 39 languages for 110 countries so far, and won Man Asian Literary Prize in 2007.

The novel had a heavy ecological focus, as protagonist Chen Zhen mourns the development that erodes the Mongolian nomadic culture he embraces. Some also see it as a call for Chinese to shake off centuries of agrarian culture and become more wolf-life and aggressive.

It has detractors: Critic Wolfgang Kubin has called its entreaties for China to discover its inner wolf 'fascist.' The New York Times said it was 'full of set-piece didacticism.'

Mr. Annaud said the criticism didn't bother him. 'You cannot please everyone,' he said. 'I just go with what I feel.'

Some read this state-backed project as an implication that China wants to change its national image from being sheepish to wolfish. Mr. Annaud said he didn't agree.

'I was excited that his book became a great success in China, which is very refreshing for me,' said Mr. Annaud, who says he visits China frequently. 'China has an image of a polluted country, so it is very exciting to see that there are people who are conscious about this problem.'

The Chinese officials' decision to allow him to direct this film was a surprise to some. A previous film -- 1997's 'Seven Years in Tibet,' starring Brad Pitt -- was banned in China for its negative portrayal of China's military forces.

Co-productions with Chinese production houses, as this one is, can be difficult for Western filmmakers. Director Oliver Stone, for example, has previously voiced his concern over the strict control by China's film regulators on co-production projects.

But Mr. Annaud said he felt no such challenges. 'I did not feel any pressure so far and it was even a surprise to me,' he said. 'So far I have the most incredible level of freedom.'

Making a film that puts a group of real wolves among human beings was deemed too difficult by many when the film project was launched 10 years ago, said Zhang Qiang, vice president of state-run China Film Group, which is in charge of the film's production and distribution in China.

'I talked to almost all the prominent Chinese directors, but I got the same reply--that they loved the novel but could not make it a movie,' he said.

To make it happen, after rejecting the idea of heavily relying on computer-generated imagery, the crew raised a dozen newborn baby wolves from a local zoo in China's northern city of Harbin that were then trained for the movie for over four years.

The film was shot in inner Mongolia for over one year, where the crew endured mosquito attacks and capricious weather. 'Now the 13 Mongolian wolves are all happily living in Canada, because their trainers were Canadians so they can only understand English now,' said Mr. Zhang.

China Film Group
让-雅克·阿诺(Jean Jacques Annaud)曾有机会执导《少年派的奇幻漂流》(Life of Pi),这部2012年的电影赢得了四项奥斯卡奖。

但这位执导过《西藏七年》(Seven Years in Tibet)、《玫瑰之名》(The Name of the Rose)和《兵临城下》(Enemy at the Gates)的法国导演说,他拒绝了好莱坞的这一邀请,而决定执导《狼图腾》(Wolf Totem)。这部电影是根据中国的一部同名畅销小说改编的。

这部小说出版于2004年,讲的是文化大革命期间,一名北京知青在内蒙古放羊,期间在野地里遇到了狼。阿诺说,他五年前读到了这本书的法译本,在书中看到了自己的影子。

这位现年70岁的导演说,小说的作者被派到内蒙古的同一年,我也以同样的方式被派到了非洲。那一年,阿诺被派到喀麦隆去服兵役。他说:“我发现,那里的人、那里的生活与自然的关系非常令人倾心,这段经历改变了我的人生。”

这部3D电影定于今年12月在中国上映,其中大部分对白都是中文,一部分是蒙古话。

长江文艺出版社说,中文版《狼图腾》已经卖出了大约500万册,预计盗版书卖了大约1,600万册。截至目前,这本书在110个国家被翻译成了39种文字,并于2007年获得了英仕曼亚洲文学奖(Man Asian Literary Prize)。

这本小说充斥着对生态的关注,小说的主角陈阵就发出哀叹,称发展侵蚀了他所热爱的蒙古游牧文化。还有人认为,这本小说是呼吁中国人摆脱数百年来的农业文化传统,变得更有狼性。

对这部小说持批评态度的也不乏其人。书评人库宾(Wolfgang Kubin)说,这本书在恳求中国发现自己内心的狼性,其实就是法西斯主义。《纽约时报》(The New York)说,这本书充满了固定套路的道德说教。

阿诺说,这种批评他并不在意。他说:“你没法取悦所有人,我怎么想就怎么做。”

一些人认为,这一国家支持的项目暗示,中国想要改变国家形象,从羊变成狼。阿诺说,他不能同意。

阿诺说:“这本书在中国大获成功,这让我感到兴奋,这本书让我耳目一新。”他说他经常去中国。他说,中国的形象就是一个被污染了的国家,因此看到有人意识到这个问题很令人振奋。

对一些人来说,中国官员决定让阿诺来导演这部电影相当出乎意料。之前一部1997年上映、布拉德·皮特(Brad Pitt)主演的电影《西藏七年》在中国被禁,因为电影对中国的军队有负面刻画。

与中方的电影公司合作拍片(这部电影就是如此)对西方导演来说可能会有困难。比如,导演奥利弗·斯通(Oliver Stone)此前就曾表达过对中国电影监管机构对合拍电影进行严格管控的担忧。

但阿诺说,他没有感受到这方面的挑战。他说:“迄今为止,我没有感受到任何压力,甚至我都有点奇怪。就目前来说,我享受到的自由程度简直让人无法相信。”

中国电影集团公司(China Film Group)负责这部电影的制作和发行。中影集团副总裁张强说,这个项目10年前就启动了,那时候很多人认为把一群狼放到人群中拍电影太难了。

张强说:“我差不多跟所有中国名导演聊过,但我得到的回答都是一样的——他们喜欢这部小说,但没法拍成电影。”

为了拍成这部电影,制作团队拒绝了大量依靠电脑成像的想法,养了从哈尔滨动物园送来的刚出生的几十只小狼,经历了四年的驯狼历程后电影开机。

这部电影在内蒙古拍摄了一年多,期间剧组人员忍受了蚊叮虫咬和变幻莫测的天气。张强说:“现在,13匹蒙古狼都在加拿大幸福地生活,因为驯狼师是加拿大人,所以它们现在只能听懂英语。”

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