Forbidden Tales of Two Cities
Dir/Scr: Li Han-hsiang
Set Design: Chan King-sam
Cast: Shek Sau, Tanny Tien Ni, Hu Chin, Ku Feng
1975 / Colour / D Beta / Mandarin / Chi & Eng subtitles / 108min
Forbidden Tales of Two Cities is a prime example of films made in the studio: every single effort is made not to imitate, but to re-create the real world from nothing, and nothing at all. From this perspective, the set designer is like God, who also creates the world from nothing. While all it takes for God to do so is just breathe a mouthful of air, it means enormous efforts for a set designer to reproduce what the former did. In Forbidden Tales of Two Cities , Chan King-sam’s assignment is to replicate the various houses of pleasure in a German red-light district, including a three-storied casino, complete with the milling crowd of gamesters of different nationalities. And Chan does it in a seemingly easy way, whereas in fact just the casino alone is alleged to have cost over HK$200,000 to erect, with each gambling table being priced at $3,000, and the playing stakes being bought directly from a casino with real cash. In short, it’s pure and great craftsmanship.
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||Cinema, Hong Kong Film Archive
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