Diaochan (aka Diau Charn and Sable Cicada), one of the Four Beauties of China, is supposed to be so stunningly lovely that the moon was shamed to hide behind clouds. Despite being the only Beauty among the four who is not a real historical figure but one conjured by storytelling imagination and embellished by public fascination, her story was nonetheless incorporated by author Luo Guangzhong into his popular and influential novel Romance of the Three Kingdoms. Her tale is one of Machiavellian intrigue, in which she schemes with her godfather Wang Yun to restore moral order to the land, sowing discord between the corrupt Minister Dong Zhuo and his adopted son Lu Bu, a man of martial and military prowess.
Both Bu Wanchang and Li Han-hsiang are skillful filmmakers with distinguished style. Bu's version was a big-budget feature first started in Shanghai but forced by the outbreak of war to move production to Hong Kong, becoming one of the earliest China-Hong Kong co-productions. Li was esteemed for his talent for telling the stories of historical women and had in fact made films on all Four Beauties. His Diau Charn is a brilliant animation of romantic historicism in huangmei opera music—one of his strongest fortes, featuring the actress Linda Lin Dai in her charming best.
The Betacam tape used for the screening of Sable Cicada is a sole copy; the image and sound quality is short of ideal. We appreciate your understanding.
|8/4/2018 (Sun)||12:30pm||Cinema, Hong Kong Film Archive|
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