Some time ago we watched “The Painted Veil”. It was a good movie. Edward Norton is a very admirable actor. But it really bugs me when people don’t do research when they portray foreign cultures. For example, in one scene, the doctor E. N. portrayed went to the river bank to look at the water source, and then was frustrated when he saw a hand sticking out of the dirt, implying people were ruining their water source by burying their dead right next to the river. Hello, people, have you ever heard of Fong Shui? Chinese people care a lot about the after lives of their dead, because the Fong Shui of your ancestors’ burial places directly affect yours and your offsprings’ prosperity. (Not that I believe it, but back then everybody believes it. Even nowadays people may not really believe it, it’s still a tradition, and it’s part of a sentiment that making sure their dead can be in a well-prepared place is the least and the only thing you can do for them now. BTW, FongShui in many ways is just good common sense. For example, you wouldn’t like living in a damp place would you? A place that’s prone to flooding wouldn’t have good FongShui.) And burying right next to the river where it’s damp and the dead bodies can be easily wash off into the river, least of all without a coffin, is unthinkable. Even very poor people give their dead a coffin, even if it has to be one made with cheap thin wooden boards.
Oh, and the scene where their housekeeper bring out a bowl of salad greens… Chinese don’t eat salad. Not traditionally anyway. Definitely not in that time period.
At this time and age, Hollywood is still presenting foreign cultures in stereotypes.