Cantando dietro i paraventi

Singing behind the screens
Ermanno Olmi
France, Italy, United kingdom
Ermanno Olmi
Bud Spencer / Jun Ichikawa / Sally Ming Zeo Ni / Camillo Grassi / Makoto Kobayashi


China around the year 1800. After his historical drama, IL MESTIERE DELLE ARMI (PROFESSION OF ARMS), Ermanno Olmi’s latest film transports us to the Far East. The heroine of this lush adventure story is a widow named Ching, a kind of Chinese ‘pirate queen’. For many years, her husband, Admiral Ching, was commander of a pirate fleet paid by a joint-stock company to terrorise the South China Sea.However, following her husband’s promotion to supreme chief of the imperial stables, vengeful members of the jointstock company had him poisoned for what they saw as betrayal. On her husband’s death, his widow rallies the pirates on her side and has herself installed as her husband’s successor. Under her command, the plunder and pillage continues as usual. Then, a new emperor, Kai-King, ascends the throne; he issues a new edict condemning the pirates’looting and making it punishable by death. Ninety days later, a battle breaks out between the Emperor’s ships and the pirates during which the Emperor’s fleet is decimated. Kai-King sends out another squadron. Uncertain how things will turn out, however, he delays his attack. The two enemies parry each other for a long time, biding their time. And then, one day, the pirates suddenly notice colourful paper kites rising from the imperial fleet and floating towards the pirate ships.The procedure is repeated, night after night, until widow Ching begins to comprehend the meaning of these signals.Put together, the characters on the kites told the fable of the fox and the dragon, in which a message for the widow is concealed...

Festivals & Academy awards and others

Berlin International Film Festival 2004
Berlinale Special