Saturday, 9 May 2009

Romance of the West Chamber 1927

Xi Xiang Ji, The Romance of the West Chamber is perhaps the greatest classic in Chinese literature. It was written by Wang shifu (1260-1336), based on a story written five hundred years before. It's inspired operas, films, even comic books, so central is it to Chinese culture.

This clip (French subtitles) is from a movie made in 1927. The heroine Cui yingying is missing her lover. She's in a monastery mourning her dad, but the wicked local warlord wants to carry her off. So his army attacks the sanctuary. Look at the props and sets - these are real antiques ! The battle scenes are ambitious, filmed on location. Technically this was state of the art for the time. Many more sophisticated versions have been made since, with colour and sound and superb actors but this one is special because it's like a window on the past. Look at the pagoda in the background in one scene- at least 12 tiers! Not so long after the "soldiers" scrambled up those barren hills, war broke out in the "real" world. Perhaps now that stretch of countryside is urban, but on film, it's preserved forever.

Read about more about the film on The Chinese Mirror HERE

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