NZIFF’s highlights – One Screenshot: The Intro Shot of The Assassin.

It’s no wonder that Hou Hsiao-Hsien won Best Director Award in the Cannes Festival this year for The Assassin. Every shot is a piece of art, a mesmerizing living painting that you could admire for hours. But, the one I will never forget is the intro shot.

The Assassin starts with an exquisite black and white prelude that ravishes us instantly: the first crime is swift, precise and highly poetic. Murder & death are magnified. The best is yet to come: colors are amazingly beautiful in the movie.

The intro shot of The Assassin:

Just after the prelude, the name of the film appears on the screen and colour is introduced. This particular shot was the most stunning shot I’ve seen during the entire festival. The beauty of Chinese signs inscribed in the middle of a frame that presents a river bathed in a vivid red light at sunset is the most beautiful cinematograph I’ve ever seen. I wish I had taken a screenshot for you! Anyway, it’s maybe better like this : your surprise will be intact 🙂

Set during the Tang dynasty of China, The Assassin is the first wuxia film of Taiwanese director Hou Hsiao-Hsien – wuxia refers to martial art films in which a martial hero is on an existential quest. Years after having been sent to train, a highly gifted assassin comes back to her family nest to kill her cousin. Duty VS love: what will prevail?

 The slow-pace of this movie is challenging, even more for those who expect an action movie and love incredible stunts and swordfights, but The Assassin is pure magnificence; it unfolds itself like a dream in which restraint creates tension. Try not to fall asleep! You’ll access to sheer beauty.

Sally Welly

The Assassin - NZIFF 2015

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