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Success of Street Angel

Director: Yuan Muzhi (1937)

Street Angel was one of the best left-wing movies made in the 1930s. Adopting a realistic approach, it vividly portrays a group of characters including prostitutes, a singsong girl, a trumpeter, a newspaper vendor, a barber, and a petty newspaper stall owner and shows their poverty, unemployment and tragic lots. Under adverse social and living circumstances, these people of low position in society are united and they help each other, radiating the brilliance of human nature and love.  

Starred by famous stars Zhou Xuan and Zhao Dan, and adapted and directed by Yuan Muzhi, the film is a tragicomedy. Its creators made full use of the audio-visual characteristics of the cinematographic art, and in a lucid, humorous, and meaningful style, showed a picture of the lowest stratum of society in a metropolis and showed people of low position who are not willing to be humiliated and their spirit of resistance.

An important reason of its success is that it was created based on the real life. It is said that Yuan Muzhi and some friends such as Zhao Dan often gathered together in a small pub to drink and chat, talking about the current political situation, life and art. They came into contact with all kinds people from the low stratum of society and came up with the idea of depicting their life and fate in the way of art. They finally successfully produced the film Street Angel. The screenwriting, directing, performance, photography, art design, and sound recording all reached a new height in the development of Chinese cinema.

(chinaculture.org January 19, 2004)

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