A film starring a real-life film couple in today's Shanghai
which tells the love story of an actor and actress in the Shanghai
of 60 years ago is to have an accelerated release in town this
month, writes Xu Wei with the Shanghai Daily.
Well-known female director Peng Xiaolian had scheduled the
Shanghai premiere of her latest movie, Shanghai Rumba for
Valentine's Day, but now the screening has been brought forward to
the Chinese lunar New Year holiday which starts late this
At a special screening of the film at the Shanghai Film Art
Center on December 30, the audience, both young or old, applauded
and praised it.
"This impressive movie is quite different from most commercial
blockbusters where stunts and big scenes are usually the point,"
says Alice Zhang, a 20-something local movie buff. "It is full of
nostalgia for old Shanghai which is always a fascinating magnet for
generations of Chinese and overseas filmmakers."
It's a romantic love story and also marks the first time the
hero and heroine -- real-life lovers Xia Yu and Yuan Quan -- have
played a couple on the screen.
The movie is set in the 1940s. Wan Yu (Yuan), a traditional
young Chinese woman whose dreams and youthful vigor are being
stifled by her life in a feudal family, accidentally meets film
star Ah Chuan (Xia) when she is invited to play a role in a film.
Her life changes from that moment on.
According to director Peng, the script draws its inspiration
from the legendary love story between late famous actor Zhao Dan
(known as "The Prince of Film" in those days) and his actress wife
Huang Zongying. A production of Shanghai Film Group Corp, it is
also a tribute to the centennial of Chinese cinema.
"The youth, aspirations, struggles and passions of a former
generation of film artists who lived and worked some 60 years ago
are all depicted," says Peng. "I hope their experiences will
resonate in the hearts of today's young actors."
The filming lasted for one and a half months at the Shanghai
Film Shooting Base in suburban Songjiang District and a few other
locations in the city such as the Lyceum Theater and Shanghai
Writers' Association where the couple dance a hot rumba.
And there are a number of scenes showing how film crews of the
era shot their movies. Famous local director Hu Xueyang is invited
to play a director in the movie-within-the-movie to create an
authentic atmosphere. Plus, antique cameras, optical lenses and
recording and lighting devices from 60 years ago were also used in
"The movie also mirrors the road that was full of challenges for
the Chinese cinema in the past century," says a member of the
audience who declines to be named. "But for the struggles and
devotions of the old artists, there wouldn't be a bright future for
today's young filmmakers."
Xu pengle, vice president of Shanghai Film Group Corp, agrees.
"Nowadays the high artistry of the movies and our concern about the
market will take the domestic film industry to new levels of
prosperity," he says.
(Shanghai Daily January 5, 2006)