Sole Island Movies refer to a batch of movies made in Shanghai, an isolated region, after the Japanese invaded China.
In the 1930s, a group of filmmakers produced an enormous number of commercial films in Shanghai implicating their anger, including Shouts and Resistance under Cruel Japanese Oppression. Each year an average of 60 movies were produced.
The barbarous invasion of the Japanese imperialists into China after the September 18 Incident in 1931 aroused the indignation of the Chinese people. As the national anthem says, "The people of China are in a most critical time. Everyone must roar his defiance." Movies with a spirit of fighting against imperialism and the Japanese aggression became the sound of a bugle, loud and encouraging.
Judging from their content and ideological features, fine movies about the fight against imperialism and Japanese aggression can be divided into three stages. The first stage went from September 1931 to July 1937. Movies made during this stage mainly reflect the disasters brought about by the invasion and the awakening of the Chinese people. The screenwriters and directors concentrated their efforts on encouraging and arousing the enthusiasm of people in the struggle against Japanese aggression.
A representative movie in the period is Mulan Enlists in the Army, which tells the story about an ancient girl Mulan. In the story, the smart but clumsy tomboy daughter of a once-great general, disguises herself as a boy and enlists in the Chinese army to save her ailing father. The film won acclaims and continued to play for 85 days.
Besides ancient-style movies, love movies, comedies, dance movies, exploratory movies and ghost movies were also popular at the time. Compared with the commercial movies produced in the 1920s, they were more mature commercial filmmakers in China, and laid foundation and provided reference for the later development of Chinese commercial movies.
(chinaculture.org January 18, 2004)