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Hong Kong Filmography Volume I (1913-1941)

A Word from the Editor

The great bulk of Hong Kong's pre-war film heritage is lost to us. What remains are scattered literary materials and film stills. The most difficult task for us in editing this book was how to assess and judge the extant materials. We have compiled our filmography based on details researched from newspaper film advertisements.

At the time, such advertisements contained the credits of leading cast and crew but compared with the advertisements of the present day, they were much more forthcoming with synopses and other credit details such as theme songs, the name of composers and lyricists, the orchestra leaders, and the singers. However, we are aware that such information gleaned from newspapers contains certain limitations since the motive was to publicise the films to readers in order to attract them to see the films, so there might be a gap between publicity and objective reality. While we respect primary materials, we try our best to further research the data in an effort to achieve objectivity. In our work, we realise the limitations of the advertisements and to avoid the hyperbole of the language, preserving as much as we can the basic plotlines of the descriptions.

Another problem was posed by the classification of film category. Our friends who are film scholars know well this problem about classifying the genres of Chinese films. It is a matter that is still under study. To define a certain film's genre, one needs to understand how a story is told apart from what the story is about, and how the story inherits the conventions of a genre while having its own adaptation. In the process of editing, we had to rely on our literary materials to classify the genres since there was no way we could see the pre-war films.

To fill in the gaps, we must thank Mr. Yu Mo-wan who supplied us with his precious suggestions and did more research on relevant materials. Under the limited circumstances, we were able to come up with an initial identification of each film's genre with the aim of providing readers with an impression of Hong Kong's pre-war pictures.

The early films did not have English titles. To translate the titles, one would need to have a certain knowledge of the film culture at the time. We sincerely thank Mr. Stephen Teo and Ms. Janet Young for their dedicated work in this regard.

That this volume of the Hong Kong Filmography Vol I can be published is due to the team effort of all our colleagues, experts and friends. I extend my heartfelt thanks to them for their generous support and help.


Mary Wong
Editor

 

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