Monday, December 14, 2009

Some Selections from The Actress Soundtrack

Ah, it is 85 degrees with a sun as bright as a new born grapefruit. I am working on my Louis Koo, but chances are I am going right past that look into red. A color that doesn´t really suit me. I uploaded a few musical tracks before I left and will get some of these up over the next week. I am starting off with four tracks from a film directed by Stanley Kwan, The Actress a.k.a. Centre Stage. It details the tragic story of perhaps the most famous Chinese actress from the 1930´s in Shanghai, Ruan Lingyu, portrayed by the delicate and elegant Maggie Cheung. It is definitely one of Maggie´s top performances.


Anonymous said...

The Actress is definitely one of the HK films that has most influenced me. Besides introducing me to the world of classic Shanghai cinema, it also turned me on to classic Mandarin pop. Immediately after watching the film, I tracked down the soundtrack CD, as well as a cassette compilation featuring all the great singers, including the sexy Bai Guang.

Yep, Bai Guang is one of a kind. It's a total shame that her films are not available on DVD today. It's almost like if Marlene Dietrich's films weren't available. It's that huge an omission. Oh well... at least we have her songs.

Thanks for the sharing!

Brian said...

I am not clear on the copyright issues but I wish somehow the HK Archives would find a way to get their rare prints on to dvd with perhaps a commentary included and subs. Their mission should be more than just preserving HK film prints but also to give people an opportunity to see these films (other than at their screenings)and thus teach people about older HK film. I am pretty sure that they have a couple of her films in storage.

Anonymous said...

I've heard that the copyright issues for HK films, because of the many small and short-lived companies, are particularly difficult. And it could be that the HKFA simply doesn't have the funding to produce a DVD series.

Still, it would be nice to see something along the lines of what the Korean Film Archive is doing.

ewaffle said...

"Centre Stage" is an amazing work in so many ways, a movie within a movie within a movie, each commenting on the other but somehow not intrusively and Stanley Kwan letting Maggie Cheung, who was never better, simply dominate the entire enterprise.

One sequence I have watched a lot is the depiction of the wake and funeral of Ruan. It seemed at first to be different versions of a scene, each with its own mis en scene and camera postions to achieve varying emotional responses in the audience, but it is "happening" in each of the movies at the same time.

It is shown several times and we are seeing on the screen slips between the faux-documentary and the what seems to be the main (offical, real) narrative. Earlier, Maggie as Ruan bursts into tears at the end of her death scene—we assume that it is relief over finally being done with the scene having been bullied by the director, forced to run the scene over and over but without direction—just being told to do better, let the emotion come through, act with your eyes, etc. But this assumption of simply professional relief is undercut when Maggie (playing Maggie) also begins crying after the death scene, possibly overcome with the emotion of what she is portraying. Or possibly not—her weeping may have been simply part of one level of the movie that leaked over into another.

And that is just one example of the many layer richness of "Centre Stage", one of the really great movies of all time.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, that's a brilliant scene, Ed. It's still etched clearly in my mind.