Country more important to me: Zhang Yimou
People's Daily app

Director Zhang Yimou poses for photographers at the premiere of the film 'Shadow' at the 75th edition of the Venice Film Festival in Venice, Italy, Thursday, Sept. 6, 2018. (File photo: AP)

The Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics finally came to a successful conclusion on Sunday, bidding farewell to international friends with a unique oriental charm.

Zhang Yimou, chief director of the opening and closing ceremonies of the 2022 Olympics and 2008 Olympics, went on Chinese online Q&A platform Zhihu to express his feelings about Olympics that night.

The full text is as follows:

The moment when the main torch went out, my heart was filled with mixed feelings.

We relived the scene in 2008: The stars converged on the ground, turned into five star rings and slowly rose with the theme song "You and Me." Then the snowflake torch fell slowly and the two were intertwined in the air ‒very romantic ‒ as if going back in time. I think this was a special moment.

At the moment when I saw the two met, I was emotional. Right here, right in the Bird's Nest, the historic moments overlapped each other. It seemed to be only a few seconds, but more than 10 years had passed. This moment represented the road we traveled from 2008 to today.

As a witness in the past 10 years, many changes have taken place in myself and the country. We can present the opening and closing ceremonies in a minimalist way, letting the world be with us.

I met a staff member who was a volunteer in 2008 and is now a volunteer leader. He said he came again. I said you grew up. Everyone felt this way: More than 10 years have passed in the blink of an eye. In the overlap of time, this country and I were different.

Every step of ordinary people seems to be small, ordinary, down-to-earth and calm, but looking back at every step of the development of our country from a distance, you will be amazed at its free and easy, legendary, great and ever-changing nature. It is precisely this kind of smallness and ordinariness that constitutes an indescribable force for Chinese people: fearless, optimistic, never giving up and never wasting time. It is difficult for me to articulate this kind of power, but it is the most original motivation and the most precious emotion to change China's destiny.

I believe many people will feel the same when they see this moment. This is how the Chinese people feel about the country's development. It is getting better and better.

During the two Olympic Games, we not only talked about the concept of a dual Olympics, but also were not satisfied that we have the only dual Olympic city and venues. This is the road we have traveled and it is also the development and changes of China over the years.

Chinese people have a strong sense of home and country, and so do I. Without the strength of the country and the improvement of China's international status, we would not have been able to bid for the Olympic Games twice in such a short period of time, nor would I become the so-called "dual Olympic director.” This is my luck.

From the moment I received the task for the Winter Olympics, I knew I had to give it my all. Between home and countries, the country is more important to me. Not just me: There are many others like me who spare no effort for it.

Performers dance during the closing ceremony of the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic Games, at the National Stadium, known as the Bird's Nest, in Beijing, on February 20, 2022. (Photo: AFP)

In fact, for the memorial session of the closing ceremony, we had held the brainstorming meeting many times and put a lot of efforts into it. This session is a mandated action since the Rio Olympics to honor the deceased. South Korea Olympics displayed it like a funeral, while Tokyo showcased Japan's Mono no aware culture.

So how do the Chinese express death? How to extract the Chinese view of life and death from Chinese culture? I think the difference between Chinese and people in other countries is that we have an optimistic and positive attitude towards dead and the living. The Chinese version of the dead is having a nice trip. Our outlook on life is like this. While cherishing the memory of the deceased, we often wipe away our tears. Those who are alive should still live well.

So we chose the image of picking the willow to bid farewell. Everyone held a glowing wicker and walked slowly to the middle in the music of ‘Farewell,’ and countless green lights rose like a monument.

We especially choose the green light, which means life, hope and growth. We don't have much sadness, but more of a deep memorial.

(Compiled by Lin Rui)