A few months back, the first teaser for The Great Wall, starring Matt Damon, appeared online. Directed by the great Chinese filmmaker Zhang Yimou, the teaser showcased gorgeous cinematography.
By its very nature, the teaser was only meant to raise curiosity and awareness about the movie. Instead, it stirred instant controversy. Though The Great Wall features an international cast, including Willem Dafoe, Pedro Pascal (Game of Thrones), Eddie Peng (Call of Heroes) and Andy Lau (Infernal Affairs, House of Flying Daggers), and even though director Zhang Yimou is recognized worldwide for his cinematic artistry, online chatter focused on Matt Damon starring in an English-language movie about China's Great Wall.
Was Damon hired to portray a non-Chinese character as some sort of "white savior" for the Chinese people? We didn't know at that point; few details about the plot had been revealed, other than the premise that the world-famous Great Wall may have been built to keep out some sort of monster and/or monsters.
As reported by Cinema Blend, Damon recently addressed the controversy, saying in part: "I was surprised, because it was based on a teaser. It wasn't even a full trailer, let alone the movie. … I watched the trailer a number of times to understand the criticism. And, ultimately, where I come down is if people watch the movie and still believe there's whitewashing involved in it, in a creature feature that we made up, then I will listen to it with my whole heart. And I will think about that and I will try to learn from it. I will be surprised if people watch it and have that reaction. I will be genuinely shocked."
The first full trailer has now been released. In it, Damon is shown to be searching for a powerful weapon when he is caught up in an epic battle; he's just one of thousands of soldiers who are fighting for their lives. Frankly, he doesn't sound like a savior as much as someone who just wants to save his own soul. Watch the trailer below.
After watching the trailer, we can better understand why Damon also said: "I feel like you are undermining your own credibility when you attack something without seeing it. You have to educate yourself and then make your attack so that it's easier to listen from both sides." The Great Wall will open in theaters on February 17, 2017.