Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|Romance of the Western Chamber|
Actors: Cijiang Ge, Chichang Hu, Cho-cho Lam, Dandan Li, Yaoting Zhu
Directors: Hou Yao, Minwei Li
Genres: Indie & Art House, Classics, Drama
A filmed version of one of the great Chinese folklore tales - on par with "Gone with the Wind" - this rare silent film is presented for the first time ever on any home video format and restored from the only known existing... more »
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A rare glimpse into silent Chinese cinema
Barbara (Burkowsky) Underwood | Manly, NSW Australia | 06/14/2007
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Not only is this DVD one of the few Chinese silent films available to us today, but this film also sheds light onto China's rich cultural past because it is based on a famous play from the Yaun Dynasty, which is the 13th to 14th century of our calendar. Perhaps something like Shakespeare's plays are to us, so this story is an important part of the Chinese heritage, but even without any knowledge of China's history "Romance of the Western Chamber" can still be enjoyed for its various good aspects. No doubt considerable effort was put into re-creating costumes of the Yuan Dynasty, as well as the martial arts and battle scenes featured in the story. But overall this is a nice, old-fashioned love story of a young scholar preparing for an exam at a temple complex where he meets the pretty daughter of the Prime Minister. As a poor student it seems he hardly has a chance, but when the temple is under siege by bandits and the reward for saving the inhabitants is the daughter's hand in marriage, he comes up with a plan to save the day. Being only 45 minutes in length, the story moves along quite briskly, although somewhat disconnected at times, perhaps due to missing scenes or rough editing. In fact, the overall quality of this film is not like most western films made in the same year, 1927, which featured more sophistication and smoother editing, and is more like films made some ten years earlier in the US and Europe. Nevertheless, this film still has a certain style and charm, and the leading actors give quite good and charismatic performances. The picture quality is often a bit too light and not as clear as it could be, but is still reasonably good, while the accompanying music is also reasonably suitable. The electronic music is soft and easy on the ear, and probably more acceptable to western ears than a more authentic Chinese score would be. This rare print must have been found in French archives as it has both original Chinese and then French intertitles, with small yellow English subtitles underneath which are just a little difficult to read at times. Unfortunately, there are no bonus features or notes to provide further information on the film or its cast and crew, but for anyone curious about, or interested Chinese culture and its early film industry, the film alone already says plenty.
A Genuine Film Classic
Tony Young | Hawaii | 04/14/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I remember "Romance of the Western Chamber" when I studied Beijing Opera at the University. I recalled that a silent film adaptation existed but never got a chance to see it. Finally picked up a copy in Chinatown, and the subtitles were horrible. Mostly a bad translation.
This version has a much better text, and the picture quality is all right, considering the age of the film. I doubt there's a better print out there, but if there is, I'd sure like to see it.
As a film, it is definitely a classic. Though the subplot involving the maid was never filmed, the basic love story is well told, complete with an ambitious villain comparable to the silent film serial villains of the era. The French subtitle describes him as "le terreur de la region."
The picture quality gets a little pixelated during the few mob scenes, but the one on one fight scenes are terrific, a true representation of martial arts choreography influenced by Beijing Opera. Look for a surrealistic dream sequence toward the end, a fine example of a Chinese filmmaker making use of the medium, rather than simply filming a Beijing Opera performance, as was the tradition of the time.
This is a film worth watching."
A classic tale recovered
M. Stevens | the netherlands | 09/18/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The romance of the west chamber is a classic movie from China's post war period. Among the silent movies it is one of the most fascinating displays of round characters specific to the tradition of Chinese acting methods. Suitable for silent movies as it is brilliant in kinetic display, beautifully remastered on DVD. What makes the movie even more interesting is the fact that the story itself dates back to the Yuan dynasty from the 13th century. The specific choice of this theme by the maker, brings an extra element into the historical context of the production of this movie. A jewel for everyone who loves early silent movies and their social implications."