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Japanese film Rashomon (羅生門) by Akira Kurosawa used the same narrative structure, and in fact pioneered it. It is confusing because it uses parallel and intentionally misleading narratives with subtle differences, and invites the audience to participate in figuring out which narrative is the truth.
To distinguish narratives, the director Zhang Yimou used different colour themes for each one. This contributed to what was already amazing cinematography. As an artist and designer, I deeply appreciated this.

The main theme of the movie is about putting the unity of China above all: 統一天下 "unify all under heavens". If it was German, the term would be China über alles*. Furthermore, it's widely known (at least to any educated Chinese) that Qin was a ruthless military regime, but the film is implying that peace and unity under totalitarian rule was better than disunity and in-fighting. This resonated well with the politics of the PRC, not so well for pro-independence citizens in Taiwan...

Personally, I just watch the film for the cinematography. I thought it was an amazing piece of artwork and stands in my mind as one of the best films I have experienced. I also think this film ignited the creative spark for modern Chinese cinema, which spawned many films with similar cinematography. But Hero was the original one, so it is the greatest in my mind.


* The original 1848 meaning of Deutschland über alles means German people should put their differences aside and work together for a united Germany. It was later corrupted to mean "Germany is better than everyone else" and unfortunately this meaning has stuck.

Browse photography at Denver.Gallery.