Zhang Yimou to Direct Hotly Anticipated Bo Xilai Trial

Photo © Reuters

BEIJING — After weeks of speculation, the Judicial Entertainment Department of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China announced that Zhang Yimou has agreed to direct the long-awaited trial of disgraced Chongqing party chief and former Politburo member Bo Xilai.

The famed impresario pledged to make the trial “a star-studded extravaganza showcasing the very best in extralegal obfuscation.”

While details regarding what Entertainment Weekly is calling “the show of the century” remain a closely-guarded secret, Zhang’s publicist Wang Shasha told media that the thirteen-hour spectacle, to be staged in the Grand Theatre of the Jinan Municipal People’s High Court in Shandong, would “pull out all the stops.”

“After Gu Kailai’s woeful performance last year, we knew that Bo’s appearance would really have to raise the bar.”

“After Gu Kailai’s woeful performance at her trial last year—despite her gaining 40 pounds for the role—we knew that Bo’s appearance would really have to raise the bar,” said Wang. “Zhang Yimou, the man behind Hero, House of Flying Daggers and the 2008 Olympic Opening Ceremonies was the only man who could bring the kind of razzmatazz that this kind of televised gala requires.”

Indeed, recent trials have been blasted for a lack of originality and juicy content. The corruption trial of former railways minister Liu Zhijun was singled out for criticism in the trades for its cheap-looking sets, ugly lead actors and unsatisfactory conclusion, with the disgraced politician receiving a suspended death sentence—a plot device Rolling Stone called “a transparent attempt to milk money from a dying franchise by keeping the option of a sequel on the table.”

“Here’s hoping Bo Xilai actually gets punished, or goes mental on the witness stand or something,” the review concluded.

Jiang Qing was the Meryl Streep of the fictionalized courtroom narrative.

Zhang has reportedly been in seclusion, studying footage of some of China’s most legendary trials in order to glean inspiration. The trial of the Gang of Four, scapegoats for the disastrous Cultural Revolution, is expected to be referenced in Zhang’s eventual staging, though few expect Bo Xilai to be able to match the fiery, Oscar-worthy performance of the former Madame Mao, Jiang Qing.

“She was the Meryl Streep of the fictionalized courtroom narrative,” remarked CCTV arts correspondent Lucretia Wu. “She worked wonders with Deng Xiaoping’s magnificent script. You could almost believe she was unaware that the entire process was fabricated to absolve Mao of all blame for a disaster he single-handedly caused.”

“Bo will have a tough time filling those shoes, though I hear he’s grown a beard for the role,” she added.

Unconfirmed rumors on Ain’t It Cool News have hinted that Zhang has assembled an A-list cast for the show. Names linked to the project include Gong Li as a “surprise witness,” veteran comedian Ge You as the flatfooted judge, and Mickey Rourke in a “blink-and-you’ll-miss-it” cameo as the stenographer.

Rehearsals begin today.


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