Hong Kong Filmography Volume II (1942-1949) - From the Editor
Editing Volume Two of the Hong Kong Filmography was a massive challenge, not only because of the tight deadlines that made it necessary for editing and translating work to proceed at a hurried pace, but also because the great majority of films from the 40s are lost and information was thus hard to come by. It is extremely difficult to research and compile the materials of this period from only a very limited pool of extant documentary and pictorial resources.
Of the over 400 films covered in this Filmography, we had access to only about one tenth of the film prints of the period. As for the rest, information had to be sourced from newspapers and film brochures. Indeed, we often had to rely on only a few lines of information in news titbits, newspaper advertisements and published synopses to draw information on some titles. Confronted with such limitations, we tried our best to select our resources objectively and with an unbiased eye. To help readers who might be eager to conduct further research, we have listed our sources at the end of the synopsis of each film and other textual materials. This will aid researchers and readers in determining the veracity and historical depth of our materials.
In our editing process, we have taken stock of the suggestions and opinions given by experts and advisers on Volume One, and made the following decisions:
1. Apart from the chronology of films and the index of film titles, we have added two tables of the chronology of Cantonese and Mandarin films. In addition, we have increased the number of indices to include the film companies, the main cast and key film personalities, all in Chinese and English, so as to make easier the task of looking up the titles by referring to the names of film companies and film personalities.
2. Regarding the historical period in which the stories are set, we have categorised all films set in or before the Qing Dynasty as 'period films' and those afterwards as 'contemporary films.' Where the period background is not certain, we chose not to designate the period.
3. In defining the genres of films, we tried to adopt a broader definition of genres. While preserving the names of genres that are popular in Hong Kong cinema (such as kung fu, martial arts, and opera films, etc), we tried to keep up with more internationally recognised genres.
4. In selecting the film stills for each film, our first choice went to the original stills, or frame reproductions from available prints. Failing this, we would select stills reproduced from magazines or newspapers. Fortunately, through our Collection Campaign, the Archive was able to collect some rare film brochures and publications from the 40s. A few dozens of rare stills were also made available to us by Ms Zhu Tianwei of the China Film Archive. All in all, the quality and quantity of stills in Volume Two are an improvement over Volume One.
5. On the issue of translation, the editorial team and our translator Mr Stephen Teo have reached a common understanding that different transliteration systems should be adopted for Mandarin and Cantonese. The names of Cantonese personalities would be transliterated according to Cantonese pronunciation while those for Mandarin personalities would be done according to the Pinyin system. However, the names of certain well-known personalities would retain their usual spellings or transliterations.
6. Volume Two includes reviews and other relevant documentary materials such as writers' or directors' comments. The editorial team stroves to include extracts from these sources objectively and without bias. Since many reviews betray the political and ideological tendencies of the reviewers of the day, readers are asked to bear in mind the historical sources of these materials before they leap to conclusions.
During the task of editing this massive volume, we encountered many difficulties such as sorting out the contradictions inherent in primary sources, the old spelling systems of names, and the uncertainty of release dates. I wish to thank Mr Yu Mo-wan for his expertise and research in sorting out these difficulties.
I would also like to express a special note of thanks to Keyoung Information Limited, the computer information company that assisted us in the date input of all film information into database softwares and also Trend Design Limited who provided the design and layout services. Without their dedicated support, we would not be able to process and compile the detailed appendix tables and indices in so short a time.
That the publication of Volume Two has gone so smoothly is due to the co-ordination of all colleagues in the Hong Kong Film Archive. In particular, I must mention our English translator Mr Stephen Teo, assistant editor Ms Agnes Lam and editorial assistant Ms Angel Shing. Mention must also be made of our writers and proof-readers, including Mr Tsang Hin-koon, Ms Lau Yuk-lin, Ms Janet Young, Ms Winnie Yuen, Ms Ho Wai-leng, Ms Edith Lee, Ms Karen So, Ms Irene Leung, Ms Fiona Wai, Ms Hong Hang-shuen, Ms Margaret Lam, Mr Fung Chi-fung, Ms Ellen Yuen, Ms Fung Chui-bik, Ms Tse Man-chi, Ms Phyon Chan, Ms Janet Fung, Ms Lam Shing-chu, Ms Zuey Tsui and Ms Ruby Lau. To them all, my grateful thanks.