The Romance of Book & Sword
Dir: Ann Hui
Scrs: Jin Yong, Ann Hui
Orig Story: Jin Yong's novel of the same title
Prod Co: Sil-Metropole, Yeung Tse-kong
Cast: Da Shichang, Zhang Duofu, Liu Jia, Guo Bichuan
1987 / Colour / 35mm / Mandarin / Chi & Eng subtitles / 88min
The fact that director Ann Hui had to eliminate two subplots to fit Jin Yong’s 1955 novel into three hours of screen time should tell you something about the scale of the legendary writer’s debut work. Hui keeps her adaptation focused on the conflict between the Qing’s Qianlong Emperor and his rebel leader brother Chen Jia-luo. It took three years for the filmmaker to recreate some of the novel’s most memorable battle sequences on location in Mainland China, but it’s clear from the finished film - released in two parts as The Romance of Book & Sword and Princess Fragrance - that she never lost sight of putting her own storytelling touches in adapting this classic work. More than just a creator of visual spectacles, Hui strikes a careful balance between action, drama and emotions, creating a strong epic drama that also feels intensely personal.
||Cinema, Hong Kong Film Archive
Post-screening talk with Shu Kei and William Yuen
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