There’s a very specific sadness associated with news of death on any film set. We invest emotion and energy in movies, often to an almost absurd degree, but on any broad timeline almost no film counts as essential in any way. To die creating entertainment is a terrible thing.
This time tragedy struck John Woo’s monumentally-scaled Red Cliff, based on the epic novel Romance of the Three Kingdoms. In northern Beijing a 23-year old stuntman was killed in a set fire yesterday and six others were injured. CNN reports that the scene featured a small boat set aflame, which was meant to collide safely with a larger warship fitted as the day’s set. After the collision the fire burned out of control on both ships.
Production has halted temporarily. Woo was not on set, which was supervised by his second-unit director. The $80-million production is said to be Asia’s most expensive in history, so the shutdown likely won’t last long.