The First Art Newspaper on the Net   Established in 1996 United States Monday, October 24, 2016

China enlists film prostitute for cultural battle
An old film cutting machine used in China, on display at an exhibition at the Shanghai Film Museum. The 1934 silent movie "The Goddess" was made during a golden period for the Shanghai film industry, when its studios were the centre of Chinese-language cinematography. The film is one of several re-masterings that come as Beijing tries to extend its soft power by exporting Chinese culture around the world, and build a stronger movie industry able to compete internationally. AFP PHOTO / JOHANNES EISELE.

By: Bill Savadove

SHANGHAI (AFP).- China is turning to a 1930s prostitute with a heart of gold -- played by a doomed actress -- to arouse a cinematic renaissance and fend off a cultural onslaught from Hollywood.

The 1934 silent movie "The Goddess" was made during a golden period for the Shanghai film industry, when its studios were the centre of Chinese-language cinematography.

In the film, a woman is driven into prostitution to educate her young son after her husband's suicide. Gossipy neighbours reveal her profession to the boy's school, forcing him to leave. She eventually murders a gambler for stealing her money, ending up in jail.

A new digital restoration of the movie was recently shown at the Shanghai Film Festival, after the state-backed China Film Archive, set up in 1958 by then Premier Zhou Enlai and the guardian of the country's cinematic history, opened up its vaults.

It is one of several re-masterings that come as Beijing tries to extend its soft power by exporting Chinese culture around the world, and build a stronger movie industry able to compete internationally.

"'The Goddess' deserves being seen as the pinnacle of the Chinese silent film era," said Sun Xianghui, director of the archive.

Overseas audiences saw the new print of the movie, many for the first time, a few weeks ago in Paris.

China has in the past been "very backward" on film preservation, said Linda Johnson, lecturer on Chinese film and convener for the film club of the Royal Asiatic Society (RAS) in Shanghai.

But the refurbishment drive is helped by the selection of films which match the ruling Communist Party's view of history.

Other movies chosen for the project include "Labourer's Love" from 1922, said to be among the earliest examples of Chinese film, about a fruit-seller.

A Chinese academic, who declined to be named, said: "'The Goddess' is representative of a leftist critique of society, so the Communist Party has all along held the movie in high esteem."

Culture wars
Lady Linda Wong Davies, founder of the KT Wong Foundation which commissioned a new musical score for "The Goddess", described the project as "China restoring its own past, its own great history".

"As China re-joins the world as a major industrial nation, they're very keen to let the rest of the world understand who we are," she said.

"The Goddess" is virtually unknown to Western audiences, but critics say it compares favourably to foreign silent films of the same era, in large part due to lead actress Ruan Lingyu, who plays the cheongsam-clad prostitute.

Ruan acted in 29 films, only nine of which survive, before killing herself over two unfaithful lovers at the age of 24 in 1935. Tens of thousands of people lined the streets of Shanghai for her funeral procession.

"She was the most popular actress of her day," said Johnson of the RAS.

"Ruan Lingyu is marvellous in the way she can convey emotion, almost dialogue, through her body language."

But restored films have found only a niche audience in China compared to Hollywood blockbusters.

Shanghai held just two screenings of "The Goddess", though viewers paid more than $30 for tickets.

"Restoring this kind of film is not very profitable from a commercial angle," said Chinese film critic Raymond Zhou.

In contrast "Transformers: Age of Extinction", had its Chinese premiere at the same film festival and went on to earn more than $300 million, becoming the biggest grossing movie ever in the country and prompting soul-searching among cultural officials.

The Chinese government said in June it will invest $16 million annually to fund five to 10 "influential" films, and offer the domestic industry some tax breaks.

"It must be recognised that we are in a full state of competition with American films," the head of China's film bureau, Zhang Hongsen, was quoted as saying by state media.

"This is about defending and fighting for cultural territory."

© 1994-2014 Agence France-Presse

Today's News

August 13, 2014

Robin Williams' portrait installed today at the National Portrait Gallery in Washington

The Frick announces a new interactive mobile app; Save your favorite works to enjoy offline or share

Sotheby's to offer the exceptional cellar of Netscape founder James H. Clark in Hong Kong

Mystery over massive Alexander the Great-era tomb unearthed in northern Greece

Bonhams annual Beaulieu Sale to offer rare collectors items at September 6th auction

Bogart estate: Hollywood golden age icon Lauren Bacall dead at 89 in New York

Well ahead of schedule, Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam receives its millionth visitor

Emerging artist's London Taxi sculpture unveiled at Heathrow's Terminal 2

Exhibition of works by Romualdas Pozerskis opens at The Lumiere Brothers Center for Photography

Christie's announces exhibition of highlights from the Collection of David Gainsborough Roberts

Martin Museum of Art hosts 'Henry A. McArdle: Texas Painter, Patriot, and Baylor Professor'

Restored Action #1 leaps to $167,300 in $5.18 million Heritage Comics & Comic Art Auction

Indianapolis Museum of Art publishes first-ever survey of Neo-Impressionist portraiture

Winterthur's Director of Horticulture wins trade association award

The Linda Pace Foundation appoints veteran arts leader Kathryn R. Martin as Interim Executive Director

Professor's artwork showcased in exhibition at the Delaware Center for the Contemporary Arts

Dia Art Foundation commissions Iñaki Bonillas for new artist web project Words and Photos

Volunteers needed for massive Smithsonian digitization project

Michelle Castro joins Heritage Auctions as Trusts & Estates Representative

China enlists film prostitute for cultural battle

British Council appoints Ciarán Devane as new CEO

Abraham Lincoln campaign flag brings $20,000 at Heritage Auctions' APIC National Convention Auction

Winter Fine Art & Antiques Fair, Olympia to be held 3-9 November

Most Popular Last Seven Days

1.- New light shines on Sandro Botticelli masterpieces at Florence's Uffizi Gallery

2.- Cincinnati Art Museum's Van Gogh exhibition brings guests Into the Undergrowth

3.- Degas retrospective debuts in the U.S. at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston

4.- Special exhibition features large-scale photography by Richard Mosse & Edward Burtynsky

5.- Nobel panel gives up knockin' on Dylan's door

6.- An unprecedented, international-loan exhibition of works by Claude Monet is at the Kimbell Art Museum this fall

7.- Exhibition at the Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek explores Rousseau's landscapes

8.- Yoko Ono unveils her first permanent US art installation

9.- ArtReview's annual Power 100 names Hans Ulrich Obrist as the artworld's most powerful figure

10.- British artist David Hockney makes a splash at Frankfurt fair with 2,000-euro book

Museums, Exhibits, Artists, Milestones, Digital Art, Architecture, Photography,
Photographers, Special Photos, Special Reports, Featured Stories, Auctions, Art Fairs,
Anecdotes, Art Quiz, Education, Mythology, 3D Images, Last Week, .


Ignacio Villarreal
Editor & Publisher:Jose Villarreal - Consultant: Ignacio Villarreal Jr.
Art Director: Juan José Sepúlveda Ramírez

Royalville Communications, Inc
Founder's Site. The most varied versions
of this beautiful prayer.
to a Mexican poet.

The First Art Newspaper on the Net. The Best Versions Of Ave Maria Song Junco de la Vega Site Ignacio Villarreal Site
Tell a Friend
Dear User, please complete the form below in order to recommend the Artdaily newsletter to someone you know.
Please complete all fields marked *.
Sending Mail
Sending Successful