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Critics' Choice returns to showcase novel-to-film classics

     Following the popularity of "From Novel to Film - Critics' Choice" last year, six film critics have combined to select six favourite film adaptations from classic literature for the audience's enjoyment. Some of the selected classics are rare gems which have not been screened in Hong Kong for a long time. Restored versions or full-length version of four films will be shown.

     The screenings will be accompanied by post-screening seminars and workshops. Film critics will share their views on films and literature appreciations, encouraging the audience to "pay respect to classic films in cinemas" rather than watching classics at home.

     Presented by the Film Programmes Office of the Leisure and Cultural Services Department and organised by the Hong Kong Film Critics Society, "From Novel to Film 2 - Critics' Choice" will be shown from May 14 to October 16 at the Cinema of Hong Kong Film Archive and the Lecture Halls of Hong Kong Space Museum and Hong Kong Science Museum.

     The six films selected by critics Matthew Cheng, Lam Kee-to, Ernest Chan, Lau Yam, Joyce Yang and Thomas Shin are: director Bernardo Bertolucci's "The Conformist"; Japanese film master Kobayashi Masaki's famed "Kwaidan"; Alain Resnais' masterpiece "Hiroshima mon amour"; German director Max Ophüls' Hollywood film "Letter from an Unknown Woman"; Roman Polanski's "Tess" and Indian film master Satyajit Ray's "The Lonely Wife".

     Film appreciation and analysis require theoretical grounding. Four "Workshops on Film Criticism" will be held at 2.30 pm on July 23, 30, August 6 and 13. Matthew Cheng, Lawrence Lau, Joyce Yang and Thomas Shin will share their views on films from various perspectives and the relation between literature and film. The workshops will be conducted in Cantonese and held at the function rooms of the Hong Kong Cultural Centre.

     To encourage workshop participants to write a film review, the participants will submit their reviews and any outstanding articles will be published in the house programme and the websites of the Film Programmes Office and the Hong Kong Film Critics Society.

     "A Perfect combination of politics, psychology; nostalgia and decadence"--- Matthew Cheng

     The warmth of the colours, the aesthetic posture, the decadent gesture... Based on the novel by Italian writer Alberto Moravia, Bernardo Bertolucci's "The Conformist" is a masterwork that won him great acclaim.  A thriller about an intellectual who joins the Fascists and is handed with an assignment to assassinate his former college professor, the film abandons the linearity of the conventional narrative structure and the viewer is mesmerised by Bertolucci's signature lyrical images. Every single frame is carefully fashioned to project a fragment of bygone times. To recognise his importance to the film industry, an honourary Palme d'or will be awarded to him at the Cannes Film Festival in May.

     "Four poetic and bizarre folk stories visually retold with eastern and western fragrances and senses." --- Lam Kee-to

     Director Kobayashi Masaki's "Kwaidan" (1964) is an adaptation on Koizumi Yakumo's short novel. It consists of four independent short horrors. Though separated, the stories all echo with the same theme of an obsessive passion for eternity. The film shows the deepest incubus hidden within ghost worshipers. The exposed form of cinematic portrayal is Kobayashi Masaki's way of self-reflection to explore the nature of the spirit. With vigorous design and multiple camera positions, the film expresses a new perspective experience. A boundless strange space is created with an extra long compressed widescreen. The film won the Jury Special Prize at the Cannes Film Festival 1965. The final story was omitted in the Hong Kong version released in the 1960s; a full version will be screened this time for film lovers to enjoy the return of this "most exquisite horror film" from the East.

     "Desire and suffering in the shadow of nuclear fallout. A wonderful combination of literature and film." --- Ernest Chan

     "Hiroshima mon amour" (1959) was Alain Resnais' first narrative feature. It was also the French writer, Marguerite Duras' first work written for film. She has been applauded as one of the most famous and distinguishing writers of the 20th century. With abundant interior monologues and symbols, Duras enveloped the film with a melancholic yet enchanting atmosphere. Resnais creates a modern classic with daring language showing a wonderful combination of literature and film. The innovative audio-visual effects, contrasting old and new footage, reality and memory, make the affair between a French actress and a Japanese architect an enduring statement on the trauma of war. The film won a FIPRESCI Award at the Cannes Film Festival 1959 and Best Foreign Language Film of the New York Film Critics Circle 1960.

     "It is in the film that the courage to move on is realised. It is she who, in the garden of forking paths, returns frivolity with faithfulness, and indifference with tenderness." --- Lau Yam

     Starring Joan Fontaine, "Letter from an Unknown Woman" (1948) is an adaptation of the novel Jewish Austrian author, Stefan Zweig. Through a letter, director Max Ophüls recounts the story of a girl who is unrequitedly in love with a dissolute pianist. Youth is wasted, yet it is a fated slip in life. Sharing a similar experience in life, Zweig Ophüls broadens the realm of the novella with a critical touch of drama, image and music. With magnificent camera movement, the film records the death of time and tha halo of humanity. Ophüls' films are rarely shown in Hong Kong and the 2010 restored version of the film will be screened.

     "A world in miniature. Exquisitely describing the radically changing era and death of humanity. The fate of the homeless and Polanski have created a multi-dimensional resonance." --- Joyce Yang
     Roman Polanski's epic film "Tess" is based on Thomas Hardy's important novel, one of the foremost English novelists of Victorian times. The novel is also known as a representative work of "Novels of Character and Environment", carrying Hardy's unique technique of psychological description on the fate of characters within beautiful scenery filled with pessimism. In 1979, the homeless drifter Polanski brought "Tess" to the silver screen with the highest production costs in French film history at that time. Filmed for two years with the help of cinematographer Geoffrey Unsworth, Polanski strived to capture the epic spot and the inseparable bond between the scenery and the soul depicted in the novel. Actress Nastassja Kinski vividly portrays how a carefree innocent farmer-girl is betrayed by society. The film won the Best Director, Best Film and the Best Cinematography at César Awards in 1980, the Best Foreign Language Film and New Star of the Year – Actress at the Golden Globes in 1981. The 170-minute full-length film will be screened.

     "Beautifully adapted from a short story by Rabindranath Tagore. The film traces the relationship between Charulata's husband and her secret admirer with great subtlety and gentility. It achieves a simplicity together with a complex undercurrent of emotion." --- Thomas Shin

     "The Lonely Wife" (1964) is a masterwork of two literary giants, Indian literary mogul Rabindranath Tagore and film master Satyajit Ray. The heroine lives a peaceful married life with a wealthy merchant, a husband chosen by her parents in her childhood, until her husband's literary younger brother turns up, lighting up her passion. Satyajit Ray's adaptation places females between family ethics and personal emotion. The film won the Silver Berlin Bear Award (Best Director) at the Berlin International Film Festival in 1965. The copy to be screened is with print courtesy of the Academy Film Archive. The film is restored by the Satyajit Ray Preservation Project at the Academy Film Archive with funding from the Film Foundation.
     All films have English and Chinese subtitles.

     Tickets for screenings priced at $55 are available at URBTIX outlets from now to June 27 and from June 30 to October 16 while tickets for the workshops priced at $80 per session are available from now to June 27 and from June 30 to August 13. Half-price concessionary tickets are available for senior citizens aged 60 and above, people with disabilities, full-time students and Comprehensive Social Security Assistance recipients. Credit card bookings can be made at 2111 5999, or on the Internet at

     Detailed programme information can be obtained in leaflet distributed at all URBTIX outlets. For enquiries, please call 2734 2900 or browse the website: .

Ends/Thursday, April 21, 2011


A film still from "The Conformist" (1970).


A film still from "Hiroshima mon amour" (1959).


A film still from "Letter from an Unknown Woman" (1948).


A film still from "Tess" (1979).


A film still from "The Lonely Wife" (1964).





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