It seems that the upcoming, big-budget movie about Confucius is not the only cinematic treatment of the Sage. Today's NYT reports on a restored Confucius film from the 1940s, by director Fei Mu. It seems that this film gets at the political frustration that Confucius faced in his own lifetime:
Even with the dramatic scenes reintegrated, however, Fei’s “Confucius” is unlikely to be mistaken for an action film. In this slow, sometimes lugubrious, costume drama, Confucius is a prophet without honor, drifting between rival kingdoms and undercut by political enemies. His wise counsel about promoting harmony and virtue is routinely ignored; occasionally, it even puts his audience to sleep.
In Fei’s original program notes, preserved by his daughter after his death in 1951, the director writes that Confucius was “doomed” to be “a victim of the politics of his time,” destined to be studied and embraced only long after his death. It’s a fate the director, buffeted throughout his career by war and political chaos, surely understood.
But there's no mention of Confucius's personal life, especially the tricky issue of whether he divorced his wife or not. I would not be too surprised if the 1940's film avoided that matter; but the new film really should engage it.