Sunday, February 1, 2009

Lady General Hua Mu-Lan (1963)

Lady General Hua Mu-Lan (1963)

February 5th, 6:30PM in Garland 104 (2441 E. Hartford)

Chinese opera films continue to be virtually unknown in the west, while many are simply filmed versions of opera performances there are many epic opera films made with high production values and originality. There are more then thirty varieties of Chinese opera, but once opera form stands apart in terms of the quality of its representation on film.

Huangmei opera, which literally means Yellow Plum music or songs is a traditional opera form from China’s Anhui Provence. The style was unique among other Chinese opera forms for its rhythms and restrained movements.
In 1958 the Shaw Brothers studio produced a big budget Huangmei opera film called Diau Charn. This polished and slightly modernized cinematic telling of a story from the novel Romance of the Three Kingdoms became incredibly successful leading Huangmei opera films to arguably become the most popular film genre in Hong Kong from the late 1950's to the mid 1960's. Arguably the most successful Hong Kong film of all time is Huangmei Opera The Love Etern from 1963 directed by Li Han Hsiang who also directed Diau Charn.

Lady General Hua Mu-Lan was directed by Yueh Feng who is known for directed several Huangmei classics such as The Lotus Lamp(1965) and The Three Smiles(1969). The films star playing the tittle character is Ivy Ling Po, along with Linda Lin Dai she is considered one of the two great actresses of the Huangmei opera film.

The story of this film is based upon the classic Chinese poem of Mulan. This particular story is now widely known about in the west because of the 1998 Disney animated film Mulan. Because of this, the film is a perfect jumping off place for someone to be exposed to Huangmei opera, since most opera films are based upon events from classical legends and novels few of which would be known widely in the west.

Hong Kong, Director Yueh Feng, Cast Ivy Ling Po, Chian Han, Yang Chi-ching and Chen Yen-yen, 99 minutes, in Mandarin with English subtittles.

No comments: