Sorrows of the Forbidden City
Dir: Zhu Shilin
Orig Story / Scr: Yao Ke's play Sorrows of the Qing Court
Prod Co: Yung Hwa
Cast: Zhou Xuan, Shu Shi, Hong Bo
1948 / B&W / DCP / Mandarin / Chi & Eng Subtitles / 95min
Set in the twilight of the Qing Dynasty, this period saga chronicles the 15-year political turmoil between the Guangxu Emperor, Consort Zhen and the Empress Dowager. It covers major events such as the Hundred Days Reform, Yuen Shi-kai’s betrayal and the Boxer Rebellion, ending with Guangxu’s detainment. While the feud between Guangxu and the Empress affects an entire nation, writer Yao Ke recognises that it’s also a family conflict – suggesting a parallel between political and family feuds. Zhu Shilin’s film had a wide release in the 1950’s, attracting strong praise inside and outside China. However, it was later condemned as treasonous in the 1960’s. The film’s regrettable historical background is somewhat similar to the fate of Consort Zhen; caught between the dual dilemma of national and famliy struggle, she becomes a victim of persecution after planting the seeds for reforms.
Screening Courtesy of the China Film Archive
||Cinema, Hong Kong Film Archive
* Post-screening talk with Joyce Yang
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