A film again in the evening, and this time a very different sort of cinema. House of the Flying Daggers is a 2004 Chinese production that received a twenty-minute standing ovation at its first viewing at Cannes. The director, Zhang Yimou, clearly uses the screen as a giant canvas on to which he paints the story (apparently according to wuxing colour theory), so it was a shame to see this on a small screen at home. Nevertheless, the use of colours and contrasts – the emerald green of a bamboo forest, the vertical striations of a silver birch wood, blood on snow – are one of the film’s strongest points. The film radiates an undefinable sense of Asiatic grace and mysticism and the complicated plot (blind people who see, double and triple agents) revolves around a simple eternal truth; love and loyalty cannot always be compatible. It is based on a Han dynasty poem: ‘In the north there is a beauty; surpassing the world, she stands alone./A glance from her will overthrow a city; another glance will overthrow a nation./One would rather not know whether it will be a city or nation overthrown./As it would be hard to see a beauty like this again.’ Described in genre terms as an ‘action romance’, House of the Flying Daggers is much more than a kung fu weepie but I suspect its full potential can only be admired on a proper screen.