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Last updated at 14:54 BST, Monday, 06 April 2009

Confucius the movie

Summary

6 April 2009

A film is to be made in China about the life of the one of the country's most famous thinkers, Confucius. The decision marks a resurgence there in the teachings of the philosopher who lived two-and-a-half thousand years ago.

Reporter:
Keith Adams

Statue of Confucius at the Changchun Confucian Temple in Jilin Province, China

Statue of Confucius at the Changchun Confucian Temple in Jilin Province, China

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Lights... cameras... philosophy... An unlikely subject for a blockbuster with an unlikely leading man. Chow Yun-Fat, the star of numerous Hong Kong gangster movies, is to swap his sub-machine gun for the scholarly robes of Confucius. The film could also seem unlikely given how the ancient thinker fell out of favour in China. Chairman Mao Zedong said he belonged to the feudal age, and the Red Guards of the Cultural Revolution destroyed his grave.

But that was in the 1960s and 70s. Now China's leaders are turning to Confucius to give the country some spiritual guidance. His emphasis on harmony and self-discipline, without reference to God of course, has been endorsed by the president. Confucian texts have been given greater prominence in universities and the government is now partly funding the 20-million-dollar film.

So what wisdom can we expect up on the silver screen? Better a diamond with a flaw than a pebble without? Or perhaps one suited to Chow Yun-Fat's earlier movies: before you embark on a journey of revenge, dig two graves.

Keith Adams, BBC

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Vocabulary

a blockbuster
a film that is very commercially successful
leading man
the actor playing the main part
fell out of favour
stopped being treated with respect
spiritual guidance
teaching aimed at achieving non-material gains, such as reducing stress and anxiety, living more happily, etc.
emphasis on
underscoring, or stressing the importance of
endorsed
officially approved
been given greater prominence
begun to be studied more widely and thoroughly
wisdom
here, a saying based on many people's knowledge of life gained through their experiences
up on the silver screen
showing in cinemas (the silver screen is an old-fashioned way of referring to both the special screen on which films are projected and the film industry in general)
a flaw
a fault or imperfection

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