Dir: Yu Benzheng
Orig Story/Scr: Cao Yu
Scr: Wan Fang
Prod Co: Shanghai Film Studio
Cast: Fang Shu, Wang Shihuai, Wang Fuli, Wang Futang, Yan Xiang
1985 | Colour | DCP | Putonghua | 156min

This 1985 film version of the adaptation of the drama written in 1936 combines realism and melodrama. The director furnished the original four acts drama, which contains only two scenes, with street scenes, bank office, homes of the bank manager to project filmic realism. The director also respectfully deploys the beautiful and moving lines from the original drama script to depict the depraved and squandering life of Chen and the upper classes, which made the film to be a profound and broad revelation of the inter-relationship between different social classes of traditional China. The wearied but kind prostitute Chuixi who protects Xiao Dong Xi after she is sold to the brothel (act III in drama) further brings out the dismal fact of the underworld and reflects the humanity of the grassroots, which highly contrasts the hypocrisy and viciousness of the upper classes.

Using a popular Chinese song, How Can I Not Think of Her, in different scenes as leitmotiv and the camera-work of this film indicates that the Chinese mainstream cinema at that time was reminiscent of the commercial Hollywood cinema. Besides, actresses of Chen, Mrs Zhang and Chuixi are particularly impressive because their characters are all exploited, manipulated and forced to live in the social crevices, which provides them with more room of expression, unlike the other stereotyped characters.

Date Time Venue
21/11/2021 (Sun) 11:00am Cinema, Hong Kong Film Archive

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