A Brief Analysis of “The Curse of the Golden Flower” (2006)
It is indisputable that the Chinese were once a powerful nation; their civilization was relatively advanced as compared to the other neighbouring nations. Progress can be felt, in all aspects of their society. Because of that it was no doubt that other people desired to own what the Ancient Chinese have, and because of that desire, the rich tradition of the Ancient Chinese slowly reached the point of its demise, its downfall. But fortunately, not all of their tradition had been wiped out. Some of them lingered in the minds and hearts of its people. And as technologies started to emerge, they started to use what they know in various forms. Many of them depicted Ancient China through film, and one of the most successful portrayer of the splendour of Ancient China was notable filmmaker Zhang Yimou. His prowess in making high-quality films was manifested in his 2006 epic-historical drama film “The Curse of the Golden Flower.”
“The Curse of the Golden Flower” was set in Ancient China, specifically the Imperial Court, during the Later Tang Dynasty (10th Century). During the time when the film was set, the whole Chinese Empire was under the control of a Emperor Ping (played by Chow-yun Fat), a ruthless, cunning, and a cold-hearted ruler. He has a wife (played by Gong Li) and three sons, namely Prince Jai, Prince Wan and Prince Yu. The marriage of the Emperor and the Empress was not out of their affection towards each other. Rather, they were married due to political and business reasons, in order to further strengthen their empire.
The film starts a few days before the Chongyang Festival, which celebrates the ninth day of the ninth lunar month. The Emperor, together with one of his sons, Prince Jai, returns to the Imperial Court in order to celebrate the holiday with the royal family. It was hinted that the Empress and Prince Wan, her stepson, were having an affair. But Prince Wan secretly dreams of escaping from the palace walls together with his lover, the daughter of the resident physician by the name of Jiang Chan.
The youngest son, Prince Yu, kept on asking the Emperor for permission to bring him to the front and take control of the army there, but to no success. Meanwhile, the Empress’ favourite son, Prince Jai, talks to her mother about her state of health and worries about her growing fondness of embroidering chrysanthemums on silk cloth.
The Emperor also had his favourite, and it was Prince Wan. Prince Wan is the apple of the Emperor’s eyes. The mother of Prince Wan was the Emperor’s previous lover. His mother died of childbirth a few days before the Chongyang Festival, so the Emperor treats this day to be serene, in honor of Prince Wan’s mother. Also a portrait of her is to be seen in the Emperor’s private quarters.
During one conversation between the Emperor and the doctor named Jiang Yiru, it was revealed that for ten days, they have been tampering the original formula of the medicine that the Empress has been drinking for more than ten years by adding a poisonous black fungus to it. That is the reason of the unexplainable weakness of the Empress. Thinking that it has been because of the medicine she has been drinking, she refused to drink the medicine, which greatly infuriated the Emperor, as he was the one who ordered the administering of the poisoned medicine. Being sure of the fact that the Emperor wants her dead, the Empress summoned her favourite son.
She explained to him that ten days before the Emperor arrived; she noticed that strange taste of the medicine. At that time, she knew something was wrong with it. She later confirmed that black fungus was included in the concoction, much to the surprise of Prince Jai. The Empress also revealed her plan of rebellion against her husband, during the 1st...