The Turandot Project (2000)

Genres - Culture & Society, Music  |   Sub-Genres - Concerts  |   Release Date - Aug 10, 2001 (USA - Limited)  |   Run Time - 85 min.  |   Countries - Germany, United States  |   MPAA Rating - NR
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Review by Jason Clark

A mostly by-the-numbers, but still fascinating look at the mounting of a monumental, extremely costly production of the Puccini opera Turandot by famed Asian filmmaker Zhang Yimou, The Turandot Project is an intimate backstage documentary that offers an intriguing glimpse at the goings-on of the opera, a subject rarely ever touched by modern filmmakers. The feature isn't as rousing or spirit-lifting as Allan Miller's 1997 film Small Wonders (later remade as Wes Craven's Music of the Heart) and doesn't delve deeply enough into some of the more hot-button issues involved in staging live theater, but it more than adequately displays the passion behind such a project. Most interesting are its findings about the interpretation of opera across cultural boundaries and how equally headache-inducing and triumphant managing such a lavish production can be. The film is of especially high note to enthusiasts and fans of director Yimou, who offers both the headaches and the triumphs, but the feature is well-made and will appeal to a wide variety of individuals.