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Hero Redux
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Well, I'm not the only one who interpreted Hero the way I did.

From a new article in The New Republic:

[warning: spoilers]

Confronted by a master assassin in his own court, the defiant king gives Nameless a sword to finish the job. Nameless, however, pulls back at the last moment--and tells the king that he is being spared so that he may continue his mission of uniting the land and securing lasting peace. As dictated by law, Nameless is executed, but given a hero's burial for his selfless act. The movie ends with a shot of the Great Wall (one of the real Emperor Qin's accomplishments) and on the solemn words of a closing title card: "Our Land."

That climax may well be one of the great sucker-punch endings in recent years. What had seemed a traditional, if artsy, martial arts epic is transformed into pernicious propaganda with that closing act of submission. By having its protagonist sacrifice his life for the imperial cause, the film endorses a philosophy of individual subservience to the state. Hero's portrayal of the king as a reluctant autocrat is particularly repugnant.

Hmm...sounds familiar. And they apparently don't have a problem calling the film propaganda...maybe because the Chinese government has so warmly embraced it.

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