1944 Movie Directed by Bu Wancang 卜萬蒼

Shanghai was under Japanese occupation from 1937 to 1945.  In spite of the occupation,  Shanghai residents rushed into theaters and cinemas to spend their nights watching plays and movies, many of which were family drama or ancient costume drama, the latter of which was particularly favored throughout wartime China. Our novel Dream  of Red Chamber, did not escape from this “fever” in the wartime culture. It was made into a two-hour film in 1944, directed by the prolific pre-war Shanghai director/screenwriter Bu Wancang 卜萬蒼;  (Cantonese: Baak Maan Chong, English: Richard Poh). The legendary singer/actress Zhou Xuan 周璇  (as Lin Daiyu) sang the theme song, “Zang Hua Ci” (Burying Flowers). The film followed the tradition of Shaoxing 紹興 Opera to cast another actress, Yuan Meiyun 袁美雲, as the male character Jia Baoyu. (Note that at this time it was common in Peking Opera to have men play women’s roles and in Shaoxing Opera for women to play men’s roles.) The reviews criticized the screenplay for simplifying the novel into a mere love triangle, but the acting was acclaimed.  (Summary by Zhu Tianxiao)


The film is available at the Internet Archive


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Dream of the Red Chamber Copyright © by Ann Waltner is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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