Hong Kong Filmart: TVB to Air 'Empress of China,' With CGI Cleavage Edits

Empress of China Still - H 2015
Hunan TV

The Fan Bingbing historical bodice-ripper caused a stir in mainland China, leading to any suspect cleavage scenes being replaced with close-ups of the characters' faces.

Hong Kong's TVB channel has bought the rights to the Fan Bingbing historical drama Empress of China and has hired a CGI team to provide extra coverage for the controversial cleavage scenes which caused such a stir during the show's run in mainland China.

When it first aired last year, Chinese censors required the producers to edit the show to focus on the characters’ heads, rather than their cleavage. TVB has instead used a team of CGI experts to place material over the offending material.

The show will air seven days a week, starting in April.



TVB Executive Catherine Tsang told local media that they would broadcast a version with fewer episodes, although claimed it would still allow viewers to enjoy the period costumes and scenery. Tsang said she hoped "viewers appreciate the uncensored version."

The series, also known as The Saga of Wu Zetian, dramatizes the life of China’s only female emperor, who ruled during the Tang Dynasty (618 A.D. to 907 A.D.). It is reportedly China’s most expensive TV drama and features Bingbing, who starred in X-Men: Days of Future Past, in the lead role. The actress is set to visit Hong Kong to promote the show, which will be dubbed into Cantonese.

The Chinese government has been on a crusade to introduce greater modesty and morality into public life, which has translated into tougher censorship rules for TV and movies.

While the cleavage shots might not raise many eyebrows in the West, China has stricter standards when it comes to public displays of nudity. In 2006, Gong Li’s eye-catching décolleté in director Zhang Yimou’s Curse of the Golden Flower caused a renewed debate about the need for a ratings system in local movie theaters.