Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Why Gong Li is loved in France--and everywhere else.

The beauty of Gong Li lies somewhere between heart-stopping and traffic-stopping: not quite fatal but more than enough to paralyze a large section of a city. So it was not surprise when Yves Carcelle, chairman and CEO of Louis Vuitton Moet Hennessey (LVMH), a person who had grown rich and powerful in no small part to his eye for beauty, elegance and how to sell them, asked Gong Li to be the "face" of the flagship Louis Vuitton brand. The pictures above are Gong Li the LV ready-to-wear show at the Paris Fashion Week in March of this year, at the LV show in Paris a few weeks ago and at the Cannes Film Festival in 2007.

While her film career is the basis for this fashion icon status, her beauty as much as anything made the world, or at least a significant part of it, take notice when she burst upon the scene. In the United States that was with "Raise the Red Lantern", her fourth film (and her fourth with Zhang Yi-Mou). Some can still recall when they first saw her image on a 20 foot screen during the trailer for "Raise the Red Lantern". While it might not have been love at first sight it certainly was instant fanboy. A screen grab from a DVD release:

In "Shanghai Triad" Gong Li played a character of endless malevolence and casual cruelty, Bijou, a showgirl and mistress of a very dangerous Triad chief. It is an amazing role in an amazing film and we are kept wondering why it centers around such an unsavory (if unspeakably beautiful) character until, literally, the last few seconds of the movie. Here are two screen grabs from the terribly transfered DVD with soft, almost "pastelized" colors:

Bijou's act:

Their last--or at least most recent--collaboration was in the decolletage-fest, "Curse of the Golden Flower" where, as can be seen in a screen grab from a dvd and a publicity shot from Sony that Gong Li is still a most formidable force in the beautiful actress world.

With Chow Yun-Fat who is being evil:

One of my favorite shots from Gong Li's recent movies this very unglamorous on from "Zhou Yu's Train" in which she plays two roles, both of them perfectly. There are three cinematographers credited on this movie and whichever of them lit this shot should have a place in camera heaven:

Pictures from Cannes and Louis Vuitton shows in a later post.

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