Dir/Scr: Sang Hu
Dir: Fu Jinggong
Orig Story: Mao Dun
Prod Co: Shanghai Film Studio
Cast: Li Rentang, Qiao Qi, Gu Yelu, Cheng Xiaoying, Zhang Min
1981 | Colour | DCP | Putonghua | 147min

While The True Story of Ah Q (1981) focuses on an ordinary person and the made-up village, this long novel of Mao Dun, published in 1933, depicts the social milieu of Shanghai in the early 1930s, with characters from various social classes and the real situations encountered by the industries. The film adaptation faithfully captures the most moving characters and details from the novel: the era of war among warlords, imperialist control of Chinese economy, the corruption and incompetence of the government, and cronyism of the government officials with the capitalists. These all render the domestic industrial entrepreneurs totally helpless.

Regarding the film technique, it was typical of Chinese cinema in the early 1980s to merge realism with melodrama. The camera operations also characterise the films from that period, such as the flashback of Wu's father in his deathbed about how he escaped to Shanghai from the countryside. There is also the subjective camera of the inebriated courtesan Xu Manli, standing on the table of the cruise boat, panning quickly from one side to the other and back. These were all common camera languages at that time. Meanwhile, the background music is mainly symphonic orchestral, fusing pieces of music common in the 1930s or earlier to achieve realistic and melodramatic effects.

*This is a colour film

Date Time Venue
20/11/2021 (Sat) 11:00am Cinema, Hong Kong Film Archive

The contents of the programme do not represent the views of the presenter. The presenter reserves the right to change the programme should unavoidable circumstances make it necessary.