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On Location in Silent Cinema

Wednesday, February 20, 2013
7:00 p.m. Love and Duty
Bu Wancang (Richard Poh) (China, 1931)

Imported Print!
Introduction/Weihong Bao
Live Music/Judith Rosenberg on piano

Weihong Bao is assistant professor of East Asian languages and cultures and film and media at UC Berkeley.

(a.k.a. Love and Obligation, Lian'ai yu Yiwu). A film long considered lost but miraculously rediscovered in Uruguay in the 1990s, this rarely screened tragicomedy from the Chinese silent era depicts a woman’s sacrifice and the price she pays for abandoning an arranged marriage in pursuit of her forbidden love. Featuring stellar performances by major movie stars Ruan Lingyu and Jin Yan, the film is remarkable for its extensive location shooting in Shanghai, a sharp contrast to an outlandish fantasy sequence shot entirely in the studio featuring a swashbuckling fight reminiscent of a Douglas Fairbanks film. 

—Weihong Bao

• Written by Shilin Zhu, from the novel by S. Horose (Ho Ro-se). Photographed by Huang Shaofen. With Ruan Lingyu, Jin Yan, Chen Yanyan, Li Ying. (152 mins, Silent with Chinese and English intertitles, B&W, 35mm tinted, From Chinese Taipei Film Archive)