Nothing is more alluring than a beautiful young woman of genteel innocence and beset with sorrowful grievances and who happens to be a ghost. The female ghost, a recurring figure in Chinese literature, has been a staple of Hong Kong Cinema, inspiring the production of many films and enchanting audiences for years.
Her femininity is often an embodiment of kindness, purity and tenderness, and her spectral aspect one of alienation and otherness. The female ghost is thus a ready figure on which sentiments against established power structures are projected, in dynastic times by writers alienated from mainstream values and in modern times by filmmakers seeking to find a balance between spirituality and humanity, tradition and modernity.
Unlike the vampire figure of the West – the likes of Dracula and Nosferatu, who is frequently male, blood-thirsty and suave in a threatening, condescending way – the female ghost, despite eliciting initial fear, often proves to be peaceful, caring and graceful in an everyday, agreeing way. She is also wronged, often by men, either in the form of a disloyal lover or an unforgiving patriarchy, prompting her to return to the human domain, seeking redress.
Back to the living world, she most likely meets and falls in love with a sweet, noble and compassionate sample of the male species, who provides redemption to the gender that has previously wronged our heroine. Yet their relationship – romantic and powerful as it is – is doomed, a forbidden romance and an impossible dream which makes for compelling drama.
Kicking off on 6 August 2017, the day of the Chinese Ghost Festival, this programme presents eight films from our collection, produced between the 1950s to the 1990s and all featuring gorgeous actresses, either in star-making performances or in the prime of their careers.
The contents of the programme do not represent the views of the presenter.
The presenter reserves the right to change the programme should unavoidable circumstances make it necessary.