Death, life and femininity with Dai Sijie

By Xu Fan ( ) Updated: 2016-05-18 14:52:52

Unlike most famous directors who prefer to receive interviewers in a heavily-guarded room, Dai Sijie insisted that he be interviewed in a bar.

Before catching up with China Daily about his upcoming film Night Peacock, the Golden Globe-nominated director drank a bottle of beer.

As an expatriate who has stayed in France for around 30 years, Dai has a rather French explanation: the easy-going atmosphere is more conducive to an open conversation.

It works.

His reminiscences of Night Peacock's inspiration and setting sound like a prose poem.

"When I was studying art history in Paris, I was fascinated by a lesser-known painting created by Vincent van Gogh in his early years. It is the drawing of a night peacock," recalls the 62-year-old, who received a scholarship to France in 1984.

As depicted in the movie, a night peacock is a kind of beautiful moth, which only eats the tender leaves of Chinese toon.

Despite the Dutch post-impressionism painter's work being a somewhat ambiguous image, the "breath-takingly beautiful" creature impressed Dai.

With the painting haunting his imagination for decades, Dai dreamed of a rosy sequence two or three years ago.

"A beautiful woman lies with her back nude on a bed. A man is tattooing a night peacock onto her body. Meanwhile, the woman is telling him how she got her heart broken," he recalls.

The vision was developed into the script of Peacock, which took Dai two years to revive more than ten times.

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