Purple Butterfly (Zi Hudie) - 2003
The tragedy of war takes many shapes, and few movies have ever looked at it as Purple Butterfly does. In 1930s Shanghai, a vulnerable young woman joins the resistance and is tasked with seducing her former Japanese lover, who now works for Japanese intelligence. This slow, dark, intense film was rejected by some critics because of its visual style and its dense, subtle plotting, which when understood creates a disturbingly compelling historical atmosphere. Zhang Ziyi's most underappreciated movie, and one of her greatest dramatic performances to date.
Purple Butterfly is now available on DVD and can be purchased from Amazon.
DVD Review - A discussion of the film and a look at the new DVD from Palm Pictures
Purple Butterfly Viewing Guide - A detailed look at some of the more confusing plot points, for people who have watched the film already.
Historical Background - Necessary reading if you are unfamiliar with the history of 1930s China. Written by MonkeyPeaches and mostly spoiler free, despite his warning.
New York Times Review - Ms. Zhang Ziyi, having proved herself as a glorious action heroine, most recently in Zhang Yimou's "Hero" and "House of Flying Daggers," now steps gracefully into a new genre, evoking the hard, enigmatic elegance of a 1940's screen heroine... "Purple Butterfly" unfolds, in a series of rapid cuts and gorgeous compositions, at the intersection of politics and romance.
Los Angeles Times Review - "Purple Butterfly" affords a terrific role for Ziyi Zhang... She is a genuine star, a compellingly exquisite beauty with formidable resources as an actress. Her Cynthia is an innately strong, intelligent woman whose courage and emotions are constantly put to extreme tests... As atmospheric and moody as a film noir, the stylish, sometimes perplexing "Purple Butterfly" is a remarkable period piece, evoking the bustling, dense and increasingly dangerous Shanghai of the '30s.
Review from Cannes - The most impressive photographical research seen in some years – creating sepia postcard impressions for the Shanghai prologue, enhancing the warm colors to reveal not only the cruelty of the bombings, but also the inner fire consuming characters forced to choose between love and political action... The maestria shown by Lou Ye in the intimate sequences as well as in the demonstrations and bombing scenes is nothing but obvious to anyone who sees the film – denying the pleasure that Purple Butterfly gives is simply absurd.
UFilm Review - A gorgeous period melodrama, packed with romantic tragedy and violent intrigue, it is both gritty and dreamy, political and personal.... "Purple Butterfly's' strengths far outweigh its indulgences. It's Chinese noir with brains, beauty and heart to spare.
Japanese Trailer - The best official trailer.
Introduction/Trailer - Serves as both an introduction to the movie as well as a trailer. Made by myself.
Marching at Cannes - The cast of Purple Butterfly walking down the red carpet at Cannes, 2003. She is wearing an incredible silky pink dress.
Cannes Interview - Begins with a cast photocall, but most of it is an interview with Ziyi and director Lou Ye. English translation is provided.
Cannes Photo Shoot - This is most notable for the interview and photoshoot shown at the beginning and end of the clip. Delphine has translated the interview and you can read it here.
Can't Get Your Love (2 MB mp3) - The jazz song used throughout the move.
Translation from the Viewing Guide.
I can't get your love
You don't give me light, like a moonless winter night
You don't even give me a foolish glance
Inside my dreams this dark night can't find a gleam of light...(more)
The Moon of a Garden Bridge (3 MB mp3) - The Japanese song from the dancefloor scene
"Lights twinkle in the river. This is Shanghai.
Coming back with you from afar,
I recollect the nights when we fought together.
The Garden Bridge, the blue moon...
I walk back to the peaceful Wu Song Road from the Bund...(more)