1962 Hongkong Film: Shaoxing opera Honglou meng

Yueju Opera (also known as Shaoxing opera), a regional drama performed in a Zhejiang dialect, became popular in Shanghai beginning in the early 20th century. In 1958, the Shanghai Yueju Troop made Dream of the Red Chamber into a Yueju opera, which received excellent reviews. Wang Wenjuan starred as Lin Daiyu, and Xu Yulan as Jia Baoyu. When the troupe performed the opera in Hong Kong, the Hong Kong film industry was thrilled about this show. They decided to put this opera onto the big screen, played by the original cast. The result was this beautiful Yueju Opera movie version of our novel, made in 1962. However, this movie was not really shown in mainland China for the next fifteen years. Right after the movie was made, in 1963 Mao Zedong severely criticized the Chinese drama for being full of “emperors, kings, ministers, and their retinues and maids,” which demonstrating a culture of feudalism, rather than promoting a culture of socialism and of the proletariat. Soon, what were commonly known as “ancient costume plays” disappeared in China for about a decade. Even the cast themselves would not believe that one day this show would appear on the screens, but the “thaw” came in 1978, when this Yueju opera movie finally met with the audience it was great success. For a while there were 36 cinemas in Shanghai showing this movie 24 hours a day non-stop, with huge crowds rushing into every one of them. Shoes were slipped off in the crowds and people had no chance to pick them up. It was alleged that the staff in cinemas could find many pairs of shoes from the theater after each show ended. (report by Zhu Tianxiao)


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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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