Ed Zwick makes a very specific kind of saccharine studio movie, one that usually tells the empowering story of how a white guy helped save a group of minorities. Zwick’s best film, Glory, tells the story of how Matthew Broderick freed the slaves. He bravely changed gears by making the white guy black in The Siege, with Muslims being the minority. Then it was a white guy helping the Japanese in The Last Samurai, and a white guy helping black people again, but this time in Africa, in Blood Diamond.
Zwick is essentially the Stanley Kramer of our time, but even more middle of the road.
His next film will be for Legendary East, the new Chinese film venture from Legendary Pictures, and it will be called The Great Wall. It’ll be written by Zwick and his producing partner Marshall Herskovitz, and it’ll reveal “the legend behind a great mystery of our age: why this magnificent structure came to be.”
Well, I can tell you why it came to be. It was built to protect China from nomadic tribes, including the Mongols. It started on the northern border of the Empire and began as smaller fortifications in 5BC; what we know as The Great Wall grew and changed up through the 16th century.
So what’s the legend? Probably something to do with a white guy showing up and helping the Chinese, if I know my Ed Zwick movies. And if I know my made-in-China movies this film will be filled with Chinese propaganda.