As you can imagine, the general audience didn’t know what to think before watching the trailer. One person could guess it was about the construction of the wall and it’s magnificent history. I, myself, and I’m sure some others at MXDWN, had our fingers crossed for an epic monster movie and we were not disappointed.
The disappointment took a different form – a form we should have seen coming. There weren’t any problems with the fact that it turned out to be a monster movie, but with the story’s main character casting choice, Matt Damon. The film takes place a thousand years ago and many people have started to wonder what Damon, a Caucasian American, is doing there.
We reported Sunday about some of Hollywood’s distaste towards the casting choice. Fresh Off the Boat star, Constance Wu, had quite a lot to say about the film for, “perpetuating the racist myth that only a white man can save the world.” She went on to add, “our heroes don’t look like Matt Damon.”
Entertainment Weely got an exclusive statement from director Zhang Yimou regarding the controversy. In the statement, he sheds some light on Damon’s character in the film. He assures us his character serves as a crucial plot point and goes on to defend his film against charges of racism.
His full statement can be seen below:
In many ways The Great Wall is the opposite of what is being suggested. 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. I believe that is a trend that should be embraced by our industry. Our film is not about the construction of the Great Wall. 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 sacrifice of these heroes are the emotional heart of our film. As the director of over 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. I hope when everyone sees the film and is armed with the facts they will agree.