Chinese movies are made between the 3 areas of Chinese language cinema: China, Hong Kong and Taiwan. In the history of Chinese cinema, there are many must-see movies and masterpieces. Cinema arrived in China in 1896 and the first Chinese movie, Dingjun Mountain, was made in 1905. In the very early years, the cinema market was located in Shanghai. The 1920s was dominated by commercial movies and small studio productions, particularly in the wuxia action movie genre.
The first Chinese sound movie, Sing-Song Girl Red Peony, using the innovation of sound on disc, was made in 1931. The 1930s, considered the initial golden age of Chinese cinema, saw the development of the left-wing cinematographic activity. The disagreement between nationalists and communists was reflected in the movies made. After the Japanese invasion of China and the occupation of Shanghai, the market in the city was severely blocked, with moviemakers relocating to Hong Kong, Chungking (Chongqing) and various other locations.
Princess Iron Fan (1941), the first Chinese animated movie, was released at the end of this period. It influenced Japanese wartime animation and later Osamu Tezuka. After being completely blocked by the war in 1941, until the end of the conflict in 1945, the movie industry of the city of Shanghai was under Japanese control.
Chinese Movies After the War
After the end of the war, a second golden era of Chinese movies occurred, with production returning to Shanghai. Spring in a Small Town (1948) was named the best Chinese-language movie at the 24th Hong Kong movie Awards. After the communist change in 1949, released movies and a selection of international movies were banned in 1951, due to movie censorship in China. Despite this, Chinese movie production has increased dramatically. During the Cultural Revolution, the movie industry was severely limited, practically coming to a standstill from 1967 to 1972. The market thrived following the completion of the Cultural Revolution, consisting of drama movies of the 1980s, such as Evening Rain (1980), Legend of Tianyun Mountain (1980), and Hibiscus Town (1986), which illustrate the psychological wounds left by the period.
Fifth Generation Chinese movies
Beginning in the mid to late 1980s, with movies such as One and Eight (1983) and Yellow Earth (1984), the arrival of new Chinese moviemakers who bore the name “Fifth Generation” increased the interest of the Chinese cinema abroad, particularly among Western arthouse markets. movies such as Red Sorghum (1987), The Story of Qiu Ju (1992) and Farewell My Concubine (1993) achieved major worldwide recognition. The business partially ended after the Tiananmen Square demonstrations of 1989. The post-1990 duration saw the rise of the sixth generation and also the post-sixth generation, both realizing independent movies outside of China’s main movie system which circulated mainly on the international movie festival circuit.
With the global industrial success of movies such as Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000) and Hero (2002), the variety of co-productions in Chinese-language cinemas has improved, and there has also been Chinese-language cinema activity directly into the market global. After Chinese movies like The Dream Factory (1997) showed the viability of big commercial success, Chinese movies exploded at the box office, and as of January 2017, 5 of the top 10 highest-grossing movies in China are Chinese productions. Shed in Thailand (2012) was the first Chinese movie to reach ¥1 billion RMB at the Chinese box office. Beast Hunt (2015) was the first to reach ¥2 billion RMB. The Mermaid (2016) was the first to reach ¥3 billion RMB. Wolf Warrior 2 (2017) surpassed them to become the top-grossing movie in China.
China is home to the largest movie production facility in the world, the Oriental Movie Metropolis and Hengdian World Studios, and in 2010 had the third largest movie market of feature movies created each year. In 2012, the country became the world’s second largest ticket sales market. In 2016, ticket sales in China totaled RMB ¥45.71 billion ($6.58 billion). The country has the largest variety of screens worldwide as of 2016, and is expected to become the largest organized market by 2019. China has also become a major service center for Hollywood labs.
In November 2016, China passed movie legislation prohibiting content deemed dangerous to the PRC’s “self-respect, honor and feelings”, as well as promoting the promotion of “socialist core values”. As industry guidelines suggest, movies are eligible to remain in theaters for one month. Production companies can go to regulators to widen the restriction.
In recent years, Chinese audiences have significantly enjoyed locally produced Chinese-language movies. Production values in Chinese movies have increased. They are big Chinese blockbusters that Chinese moviemakers are making and that people want to see, as well as feel much less involved with movies made in Hollywood. The high box office revenues of 2021 Chinese movies such as “Hello, Mom” and also “The Battle at Lake Changjin” effectively proved that the local movie market of Chinese movies has reached independence and does not require global target market attraction to generate significant revenue. The current patriotic Chinese movies are actually propaganda movies. Most of the current Chinese blockbusters are similar to those Hollywood movies that reveal the United States as a country defending the planet from global disaster.
Early Chinese Movies
Cinema was introduced to China in 1896. China was only one of the first nations to discover the medium of cinema, after Louis Lumière sent his cameraman to Shanghai a year after developing cinematography. The first videotaped test of a movie in China occurred in Shanghai on August 11, 1896. The first Chinese movie, a recording of the Peking opera, Dingjun Mountain, was shot in November 1905 in Beijing. In later years movie production companies in China were mainly foreign-owned, and the local movie district was established in Shanghai, a thriving commercial center and also the largest city in the Far East.
In 1913, the first independent Chinese movie script, The Difficult Couple, was shot in Shanghai by Zheng Zhengqiu and Zhang Shichuan. Zhang Shichuan later established the first Chinese-owned movie production business in 1916. The first full-length feature movie was Yan Ruishen launched in 1921. which was a documentary concerning the murder of a Shanghai prostitute. Throughout the 1920s movie specialists from the United States educated Chinese professionals in Shanghai, and the American impact was felt there for the next 20 years. As cinema was still in its early stages of growth, many Chinese silent movies at that time were just theatrical shorts or comedy acts, and the training was very poor in technology.
Later, after experimentation, China was able to get motivation from its own typical merits and also started producing martial arts movies, with Burning of Red Lotus Temple (1928). Burning of Red Lotus Temple was a success, Star Motion Pictures (Mingxing) production subsequently recorded 18 sequels, marking the beginning of China’s prestigious martial arts movies. Several imitators have joined the genre, including U. Lien Studio’s Red Heroine (1929). It was during this period that many of the most important manufacturing businesses, especially the Shaw brothers’ Mingxing and Tianyi, were born. Mingxing, founded by Zheng Zhengqiu and Zhang Shichuan in 1922, initially focused on comedy shorts, including the first complete Chinese movie, Laborer’s Love (1922). Production then turned to feature movies and family dramas including Orphan Rescues Grandfather (1923). Tianyi has focused his style towards mythology, as well as pushing directly into international markets; their movie White Snake (1926) is a case in point of their success among Southeast Asian Chinese viewers.
Early Chinese Sound Movies
In 1931, the first Chinese sound movie Sing-Song Girl Red Peony was made, the result of teamwork between the movie production of the Mingxing movie Company and the audio innovation of Pathé Frères. The audio was recorded to disc, and was later played theatrically in sync with the action on screen. The first dialogue talkie made in China was Tianyi’s Spring on Stage, or Great China Studio and Jinan Studio’s Clear Sky After Storm. Musical movies, such as Song at Midnight (1937) and Street Angels (1937), starring Zhou Xuan, developed into one of the most important movie genres in China.
The first major Chinese movies were produced starting in the 1930s, with the introduction of leftist political activity. Cheng Bugao’s Spring Silkworms (1933), Wu Yonggang’s The Goddess (1934), and Sun Yu’s The Great Road, also known as The Big Road (1934). These movies were remembered for their focus on class struggle and also external risks such as Japan, as well as their focus on ordinary people, such as a member of the silk-growing family in Spring Silkworms and also a prostitute in La Goddess. Partly due to the success of this type of movie, the period was described as the first Golden Age of Chinese cinema. The leftist movie movement usually focused on Western-influenced Shanghai, where moviemakers depicted the lower classes of an overpopulated city. Among the manufacturing firms that controlled the market in the early to mid-1930s were the newly formed Lianhua, the older and larger Mingxing, and also Tianyi. Both Mingxing and Lianhua have sided with leftist politics, especially Lianhua.
The period also created China’s first major movie celebrities, such as Hu Die, Ruan Lingyu, Li Lili, Chen Yanyan, Zhou Xuan, Zhao Dan, and Jin Yan. Various other significant movies of the era include Love and Duty (1931), Little Toys (1933), New Women (1934), Track of the Fishermen (1934), Plunder of Peach and Plum (1934), Crossroads (1937), and Street Angel (1937). Throughout the 1930s, the Nationalists and Communists competed fiercely for control of major Chinese movie productions; the impact can be seen in the movies Chinese studios created during these years.
Chinese Movies to Watch Absolutely
Here is a substantial selection of the best Chinese movies to see absolutely: from the masterpieces of Chinese silent cinema of the origins, through the different generations of directors, the cultural revolutions and propaganda and avant-garde movies, up to the arthouse cinema and contemporary Chinese independent, strictly in chronological order. The choice is yours.
It is a 1933 silent Chinese movie directed by Sun Yu. The movie stars famous Chinese star Ruan Lingyu, and was also produced by leftist movie production company, Lianhua movie Company.
The story tells of a toy manufacturer in the city who advises a group of citizens to continue producing conventional toys regardless of the huge international toy competitors. Associated with several other movies made in the same time period, Playthings is a patriotic propaganda movie showing hesitation towards China’s rapid urbanization and automation.
Made after Japan’s invasion of China it is a Marxist melodrama with strong nationalist convictions. Today, the movie is identified as one of the most effective Chinese movies of the 20th century. Produced during the Golden Age of Chinese cinema, the movie has been regarded by modern movie critics as a timeless movie of great social significance. Its focus on the difficulty, ingenuity, nationalism, and determination portrayed by actress Ruan Lingyu helped advance the “New Woman” archetype; an important concept during the 1930s in China. It is considered among the best Chinese movies ever made.
Springtime Silkworms (1933)
It is a 1933 Chinese silent movie. It was directed by Cheng Bugao and was adapted by Cai Chusheng and Xia Yan from the novel of the same name by the Chinese writer Mao D’un. The movie stars Xiao Ying, Yan Yuexian, Gong Jianong, Gao Qianping and Ai Xia and was produced by Mingxing movie Company.
Today the movie is considered among the first movies of the leftist movement in 1930s Shanghai. The movie tells the story of a family of silk farmers in Zhejiang District, who endure challenges and starvation when their silkworm cocoon plant dies. The movie exposes not only the extreme market problems that forced the family into destitution, but also superstitious notions and narcissism.
Old Tong Bao is the patriarch of a family of silkworm farmers in Zhejiang. He refuses to purchase international types of silkworms for his next plantation. The problems of the market are serious and despite the initiatives taken by his family in the breeding of silkworms, the cocoons fail to bring profit to the market.
The Goddess (1934)
It is a 1934 silent Chinese movie released by the Lianhua movie Company. The movie tells the story of an unknown woman, who lives as a prostitute in the evening and engages the mother by day to give her child an education and learning in the midst of social oppression on the streets of Shanghai, China. It features Ruan Lingyu among her latest roles. Lo Ming Yau wrote the movie and Hong Weilie was the cinematographer.
The general public reacted enthusiastically, especially due to Ruan Lingyu’s appeal in Shanghai in the very early 1930s. 4 years after the initial release of Goddess, Yonggang Wu reprises the movie as Yanzhi Lei with adjustments made to the actors, setting and parts of the story. After Stanley Kwan’s revival of Ruan Lingyu’s tale with the biopic Center Stage (1991) starring Maggie Cheung as Ruan, public interest in traditional Chinese cinema was revitalized. Today, Goddess is one of the most popular movies from the golden era of Chinese cinema, and was even named one of China’s top 100 movies by the Hong Kong movie Awards in 2005.
Plunder of Peach and Plum (1934)
It is one of the first Chinese sound movies from 1934. Created by the Diantong movie Company of Shanghai, positioned on the left, the movie was directed by Ying Yunwei and starred prominent star Yuan Muzhi, who also co-wrote the movie’s screenplay. The movie was included in the 62nd Venice International movie Festival as part of the retrospective, The Secret History of Asian Cinema.
The movie tells the unfortunate story of two college graduates, Tao Jianping, and Li Lilian. Married, both intend to use culture right, but are constantly challenged by the corruption and oppression of Chinese culture.
The Big Road (1934)
It is a 1934 silent Chinese movie directed by Sun Yu and starring Jin Yan and Li Lili, and was also written by Sun Yu especially for Li Lili to publicize her image. It is a silent movie that has been developed with a soundtrack, with songs and even audio effects included in the post-production. This movie was created by Sun Yu after Wild Rose (1931) and Little Toys (1933) as part of National Defense Cinema with anti-Japanese elements. Although it was called a “difficult movie”, Sun Yu did not specifically mention that “the opposing country” in the movie was Japan, just as the movie did not consist of a direct confrontation with the “opponent” on a field of battle. Rather it reveals the spirit of the anti-Japanese war in a “charming and elegant” way.
The Big Road was named the 30th best Chinese movie ever made by the Hong Kong movie Awards in 2004. Director Sun Yu belonged to an underground group led by Xia Yan developed out of the Communist Party of China, the group behind the 1917 Soviet revolution The deals with the themes of anti-imperialism and the proletariat.
New Women (1935)
It is a 1935 silent Chinese movie produced by the United Photoplay Service. The movie stars Ruan Lingyu and was directed by Cai Chusheng. This movie has turned into by far one of Ruan Lingyu’s most recognized works. Her suicide on International Women’s Day (March 8, 1935) accentuated the questionable position of the new women and also made this movie a classic in contemporary China.
The theme of the “New Women” was actually the result of a social economic model and also of a reform of social activity that had been underway for years. It created doubt and perplexity to China’s standard ideological background, and also used a transformation of Chinese “old women” into “new women” as a different social convention. New Women was thought to be a movie to stimulate “female inquiry”. This survey is actually a collection of questions about how China’s “new women” were viewed within the culture. Concerns such as what is the position of women in China, what the new Chinese women are like, and how they should live their lives belonged to the feminist revolution. New Women was based on the life of Chinese actress and writer, Ai Xia, who had committed suicide in 1934.
Song at Midnight (1937)
It is a 1937 Chinese movie directed by Ma-Xu Weibang, a director famous for his work in the horror genre. Commonly described as the first Chinese horror movie, or as the first horror musical, the movie takes the impact of the 1923 movie The Hunchback of Notre Dame, it is the 1910 novel The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux and also its adaptation 1925 movie of the same name. The movie was launched 5 months before the Second Sino-Japanese War broke out in China.
The plot of the movie chronicles the work of China’s leftist revolutionaries, and has not avoided the Kuomintang’s movie censorship, along with its severe punishment for movies dealing with fear motifs, gods, spirits, or “superstitious notions. With the interest of maintain his production, and also in order to prevent censorship laws in China at the time, director Ma-Xu Weibang met with “Yiyong jun jinxing gu” (March of the Volunteers) author Tian Han numerous times during the writing the script. Both made sure that the project was accepted under censorship. Writer Yiman Wang suggests that Song at Midnight not only indirectly tells the leftist nationalist faith, but also mentions the tension of war and the anxieties of the Chinese in the late 30. According to Wang, the ghost in the movie was associated with the terrible past of Shanghai and Hong Kong, which were under colonial rule.
It’s a comedy movie Chinese 1937 directed by Shen Xiling, starring Bai Yang and Zhao Dan. The movie shows the growing fashion of Chinese movies in the mid-1930s to integrate both covert and overt references to the war with Japan. The story takes place in the Great Depression of the 1930s. Produced by Mingxing movie Company, the movie also represented a development by Mingxing in the leftist movie market which had been effectively controlled by its competitor Lianhua movie Company. A sequel was released in 2001, despite the half-century time gap, called New Crossroads.
Crossroads begins at a dock in Shanghai, where college graduate Xu is considering suicide as he cannot find a job. His friend Zhao (Zhao Dan) takes him back to their rented apartment. We discover that the friends are all unemployed. Zhao dissuades Xu from suicidal thoughts, asking him to concentrate instead on his work as a translator. Xu informs Zhao that she has decided to raise money to visit her mother in the countryside. Tang’s friends throw his birthday party with a fourth friend, Liu.
Street Angels (1937)
It is a 1937 leftist Chinese movie directed by Yuan Muzhi and launched by Mingxing movie Company. Starring the prominent Chinese star Zhao Dan and the famous Chinese singer Zhou Xuan, the story is set in the run-down neighborhoods of Shanghai, narrating the lives of a band of derelicts of the oppressed proletariat.
A teahouse singer, a trumpet player, a paper peddler, and a prostitute. Mixing elements of romantic movie, comedy and melodrama, the characters find themselves in a series of difficult turns as they attempt to navigate the challenges of the city in the 1930s. Released in the golden age of Shanghai cinema, the movie is regarded as a masterpiece of Chinese leftist activity. During a time of national tension within the country, issues such as economic plan and military disputes are found to add to some of China’s most serious problems. Furthermore, the depiction of an impoverished community in the middle of a modern city is an engaging narrative of how innovation influenced China during this period. As one of China’s first sound movies, it also went a long way in promoting two songs: “Song of the Seasons” and “The Wandering Songstress”, both of which are still remembered today.
Mulan Joins the Army (1939)
It’s a war movie Chinese historian of 1939. It is among several movie adaptations of the Hua Mulan tale that consisted of two silent versions: Hua Mulan Joins the Army (1927) by the Tianyi movie Company, and Mulan Joins the Army (1928) produced by China Sun Motion Picture Company. The movie, billed as a musical, was directed by Richard Poh and stars Nancy Chanuna, a girl who disguises herself as a boy to take her father’s place in the army. Mulan was made during the Japanese occupation of China. Premiering in Shanghai for Chinese New Year, the movie ended up being a hit screened in all theaters in Shanghai and continued to be on screen for 85 consecutive days, and the lead character, Chen Yunshang, became a celebrity.
The Spring River Flows East (1947)
It’s a epic movie Chinese 1947 written and directed byCai Chusheng e Zheng Junli and produced by Kunlun movie Company. It is regarded as one of the most notable and important Chinese movies ever made, regarded as the Chinese version of Gone with the Wind. The Hong Kong movie Awards rated it in its list of the greatest Chinese-language movies ever made. The movie features 2 of the biggest celebrities of the time: Bai Yang and Shangguan Yunzhu. The movie is more than 3 hours and contains 2 parts, Eight War-Torn Years and Before and After the Dawn, released on different days of the same year.
The movie chronicles the trials and hardships of a family during and immediately following the Second Sino-Japanese War. The first part, Eight Years Torn by War, tells the story of the marital relationship of a young couple, Sufen (Bai Yang) and Zhang Zhongliang (Tao Jin), as well as the pressure created when her husband is forced to leave for Chungking, losing his contacts with family members in Shanghai. The sequel chronicles Zhang Zhongliang’s return to Shanghai after a second marital relationship in a wealthy family where his poor first wife Sufen has found work as a maid.
Long Live the Missus! (1947)
It is a 1947 Chinese movie listed as one of the best comedies of the Civil War era. The movie was directed by Sang Hu with a screenplay created by well-known Chinese scholar Eileen Chang. The movie was produced in Shanghai by Wenhua movie Company and entertainingly chronicles women’s lives, male-female bonds, and marital relationships in 1940s Shanghai.
The movie is an example of how author Eileen Chang adapted Western comedy of manners for Chinese viewers. The movie was applauded by critics across the Taiwan Strait as and also regarded as the best Chinese comedy ever made. The movie’s success was due to the fact that it satisfied the tastes of the Shanghai target market for melodrama featuring women in social and domestic settings.
Spring in a Small Town (1948)
It is a 1948 black and white Chinese movie written by Li Tianji and directed by Fei Mu, a director known for his compassionate portrayal of women. It was produced and financed by Wenhua movie Company, whose shortage of cash at the time led them to create Spring in a Small Town on a low budget plan. The movie focuses on a couple’s battles when Zhang Zhichen, Liyan’s former schoolmate and, paradoxically, Yuwen’s former lover, pays an involuntary visit.
Spring in a Small Town was voted the best Chinese movie ever made. While recognized as a classic today, upon its release, the movie was much more negatively panned. Spring in a Small Town, unlike its leftist forerunners of the 1930s, focused on an intimate story with only sporadic references to the national politics of the time. Because of this obvious lack of “political” basis, the movie was rejected by the Communist Party and the right. The setting of the movie shows the state of mind of a community and their damaged houses. There are only 5 characters, which creates an atmosphere of terrible loneliness.
Crows and Sparrows (1949)
It is a 1949 Chinese movie made by the leftist Kunlun Studios on the eve of the communist triumph, directed by Zheng Junli and scripted by Chen Baichen. Notable for its take on corrupt nationalist politicians, the movie was made while Chiang Kai-shek’s Nanjing-based federal government was on the verge of collapse, and wasn’t actually released until after the Chinese invasion. The civil war was already over. The movie takes place in Shanghai and focuses on a group of renters who are having a hard time not being thrown onto the streets by the authorities bribed to sell their apartments.
The movie was the champion of the 1957 Huabiao movie Awards for the “Best movie” category, and starred Zhao Dan, Sun Daolin, Wu Yin, and also Shangguan Yunzhu in the lead roles. The title has the metaphorical meaning of small birds banding together to ward off a larger crow. The metaphor of the little sparrows is used to highlight the battle of the common people against their oppressors.
This drama was influenced by the events of the Chinese Civil War. In 1948, China’s political situation was unstable and the Communist Party of China (CPC) was waging three significant battles against the Kuomintang. Actors and artists from Kunlun movie Company reviewed a possible script over a dinner, highlighting the social and political problems of current events. Noting that substantial changes would take place in China, it was decided that the movie would definitely act as an allegory in the direction of a new era.
The Life of Wu Xun (1950)
It is a 1950 Chinese movie directed by Sun Yu and starring Zhao Dan. It is a black and white movie produced by Kunlun movie Studio. It tells a true story of a well-known character of Chinese origin, Wu Xun, who spent years collecting money as a beggar to set up a free institution for the destitute youth.
After the preliminary release and despite the praise of various other Communist Party leaders, Mao Zedong released content that criticized the movie for how it fanatically advertised feudal society and called the protagonist as a “reactionary feudal leader”. Mao also expressed appreciation for the movie. The movie was called “New China’s first banned movie”. It was initially well received as one of the top 10 movies of the year, but was quickly criticized by the Chinese authorities. It was restored in 1986.
The Unfinished Comedy (1957)
It is a 1957 Chinese movie directed by Lu Ban. This famous comedy has been called one of the most successful Chinese movies made in the 17 years between 1949 and the Cultural Revolution. Because of its questionable subject matter, the movie was censored and kept away from a wider audience, and also resulted in Lü Ban being banned from making any more movies until his death 20 years later.
The subject of the movie was precisely movie censorship and its stifling authority is laughable through the movie censor nicknamed “The Bludgeon”. The censor is blind and deaf but intoxicated by his power to make a decision whether the movie will be allowed to be shown to the public or us. His satire of the censorship authorities was also compared to the satire of the Communist Party itself, since it was the Party that supported the need for censorship. It topped the list of annoying movies, the alleged “dangerous weed” list, and was banned before its launch. Chen Huangmei, a prominent Party official dubbed the “movie czar,” criticized the movie in a People’s Daily article, calling it “thoroughly anti-Party, anti-socialist, and unfunny.”
Five Golden Flowers (1959)
It’s a musical movie Chinese 1959 directed by Wang Jiayi and produced by Changchun movie Studio. The screenplay of the movie was written by Zhao Jikang and Wang Gongpu. Set in the city of Dali in Yunnan province, the movie deals with a young man of the Bai ethnic group, Ah Peng, who is searching for his beloved woman Jin Hua (Golden Flower). Made during the Great Leap Forward, the movie commemorates socialist housing as well as agricultural collectivization. The soundtrack of the movie “By the Butterfly Spring”, composed by artist Lei Zhenbang, has been one of the best-known popular tracks in China.
The movie was produced and released in 1959, and has been exported to 46 countries since its release. During the Cultural Revolution, he was outlawed and shot by Jiang Qing for advertising romance. In 1978, the movie was re-released. At the Second Asian-African movie Festival in Cairo in 1960, the movie won the Best Director award. In 2000 at the Changchun movie Festival, the movie won entered the Top 10 Chinese movies of the Century. It differs from many other movies in that it lacks the representation of suffering caused by historical problems and the representation of the Communist Party as a rescuer of the peasants.
The story focuses on the Bai minority individuals during the Great Leap Forward and engages with fascinating scenes. During the Cultural Revolution, the movie was banned due to its “charming vitality”, and it was also identified as “an anti-socialist harmful weed” with pietist feudalism and romanticism.
The Red Detachment of Women (1970)
It is a 1970 Chinese movie inspired by the Chinese ballet of the same name created in 1964, which itself was a version of the director’s first 1961 movie Xie Jin. The style is ‘yangbanxi’, an innovative version of drama movies). It is among the 8 drama versions accepted during the Cultural Revolution. A version of the Peking Opera was recorded by the August First movie Studio in 1972. In the 1930s, on the island of Hainan, the heroine Wu Qinghua departs from Nan Bastian, with the support of Hong Changqing, an assistant of the Party Communist.
Braking With Old Ideas (1975)
It is a 1975 Chinese movie directed by Li Wenhua. As a result of the political turmoil that occurred, the movie’s story was written to precise standards to ensure mass viewing. The movie draws its motivation from the problems for education in China at the time, such as that there was too much research and insufficient social technique.
In 1958, the Communist Party of China sent Long Guozheng (Guo Zhenqing), a graduate of the Counter-Japanese Military and Political University, to head the Jiangxi Communist Labor University. The even more capitalist components of the college, such as the adoption of upper-class educational criteria, and the refusal to accept poorly educated peasants meet Long’s communist method, which initiates cutting-edge changes such as paying more attention to hard work than to social class , changing training courses, eliminating non-practical areas from the educational program, holding lessons in the field, and even excusing pupils who miss exams to help the neighborhood. Later, a student, Li Jinfeng (Wang Suya), whom Long considers a great advocate of “academic transformation”, faces expulsion and prosecution. The masses come out on his behalf and strike down those who take the capitalist line on education and learning. Those in power along the capitalist line choose accordingly to close the university.
One and Eight (1983)
It is a 1983 Chinese movie that tells the story of 8 villains and a Chinese policeman defecting from the communist Eighth Street Army captured in the middle of the Second Sino-Japanese War. Directed by Zhang Junzhao, One and Eight also features photography by future acclaimed Zhang Yimou and star Chen Daoming. It is based on an epic by Guo Xiaochuan. The movie was an early collaboration between graduates of the 1982 Beijing movie Academy class, especially schoolmates Zhang Junzhao and Zhang Yimou.
Both Zhang Yimou and Zhang Junzhao participated in the “Fifth Generation”, which is the first significant group of moviemakers after the completion of the Cultural Revolution. The movie is commonly regarded as one of the first movies to move towards the more creative attitude which is the trademark of 1980s Chinese cinema. In particular, the movie’s focus on humanism and individual problems meant a drastic departure from the propaganda movies of the Cultural Revolution.
Yellow Earth (1984)
It is a 1984 Chinese movie about a young city woman who fearlessly resists old-fashioned indoctrination and seeks freedom. It was the directorial launch of Chen Kaige. The outstanding cinematography of the movie is by Zhang Yimou. At the 24th Hong Kong movie Awards event on March 27, 2005, a checklist of the top 100 Chinese movies was made, and Yellow Earth stands at the 4th place.
It is the first Chinese movie since the Communist Liberation of 1949, to narrate with images instead of dialogues. The movie has sparked a debate in China, and is ambiguous about the Communist Party’s ability to assist peasants during communist change. The movie uses movie cinematography inspired by timeless Chinese art, using a minimal amount of shadows, natural light, and a non-perspective use of framing. It is an “avant-garde” effort by young Fifth Generation Chinese moviemakers, drawing inspiration from the high abstractionist qualities of timeless Chinese art.
The Black Cannon Incident (1985)
It’s a black comedy from 1985 which makes fun of the administration and the fear of the Chinese authorities. Produced by Xi’an movie Studio and directed by Huang Jianxin, è interpretato da Gao Ming, Gerhard Olschewski e Liu Zifeng.
The movie was entered out of competition at the 1987 Cannes movie Festival. Zhao Shuxin (Liu Zifeng) is a German trained designer and performer in a mining business. He is solitary and has the unusual practice of playing Chinese chess by himself. The chessboard and objects are his close friends and have accompanied him for many years. Finally, when Zhao returns from a company trip, he notices that the black cannon is no longer among his chess items. Despite heavy rains, he immediately rushes to the post office, and also sends a telegram to the resort he stayed at earlier, which reads “Black Cannon Missing. 301. Searching. Zhao.”, requesting the resort’s assistance to search for the object in Room 301.
Red Sorghum (1988)
It is a 1988 Chinese movie about the life of a girl who works in a sorghum alcohol distillery. It is based on the first 2 parts of the novel Red Sorghum by Nobel laureate Mo Yan. The movie is the directorial launch of the world-renowned director Zhang Yimou, and the launch of movie star Gong Li. With his powerful and lavish depiction of peasant life, he quickly propelled Zhang to the top of fifth generation moviemakers. The movie won the Golden Bear at the Berlin movie Festival.
The movie is set in a small country town in China’s eastern Shandong district during the Second Sino-Japanese War. It is told from the point of view of the protagonist’s grandson, who thinks back to his grandmother, Jiu’er. She was an inadequate woman who was forced by her parents to marry an old man, Li Datou, who owned a white sorghum wine distillery and had leprosy. Upon its release, Red Sorghum garnered worldwide acclaim, winning the coveted Golden Bear at the 1988 Berlin International movie Festival. There is a power in the simplicity of this tale, the imaginative high quality of its images and in the astonishing rapidity of its violence.
Ju Dou (1990)
It is a 1990 movie directed by Zhang Yimou e Yang Fengliang and played by Gong Li. It was shot in dazzling Technicolor long after the movieing procedure had been abandoned in the United States. It was also the first Chinese movie to be chosen for an Academy Award for Best Foreign Language movie, in 1990. The movie is a tragedy, centered on the character of Ju Dou, a gorgeous girl who was offered as a wife to Jinshan, an old dyer of fabrics. The movie was banned for a couple of years in China, but the restriction was later lifted.
The story comes from the novel Fuxi, Fuxi by Liu Heng. Ju Dou is set in the early 20th century in rural China. Yang Tianqing (Li Baotian) is returning from an expedition to the silk market for his adoptive uncle, Yang Jinshan (Li Wei). Jinshan, whose profession is to dye fabrics, and is known for his ruthlessness. After Tianqing returns, another employee is fired from Jinshan. As he leaves, the employee informs Tianqing that Jinshan has recently taken a new wife.
Raise the Red Lantern (1990)
It is a 1991 movie directed by Zhang Yimou and also starring Gong Li. It is an adaptation of the 1990 novel Raise the Red Lantern by Su Tong. The movie was later adapted into a popular ballet of the same title by the National Ballet of China which was also directed by Zhang.
Set in the 1920s, the movie tells the story of a girl who turns into one of a rich man’s courtesans during the warlord era. It is known for its luxurious images and beautiful colors as well. The movie was shot in the Qiao Family Compound near the old city of Pingyao in Shanxi Province. The script of the movie was cleared by the Chinese censorship, the latest version of the movie was banned in China for a time. There were a small number of unfavorable reviews but The movie was ranked among the top 100 movies of world cinema.
The Story of Qiu Ju (1992)
It is a 1992 Chinese comedy-drama movie. The movie was directed by Zhang Yimou and, as in most of his movies, starred Gong Li in the title role. The screenplay of the movie is an adaptation of Chen Yuanbin’s novel The Wan Family’s Lawsuit.
The movie tells the story of a peasant girl, Qiu Ju, who lives in a forest in China. When his wife is beaten by the town boss, Qiu Ju, despite her motherhood, takes a trip to a nearby community, and later to a big city to tend to her wounds. The movie was chosen as the Chinese representative for the Best Foreign Language movie at the 65th Academy Awards but was rejected as a candidate. The movie was a hit at movie festivals and won the Golden Lion at the 1992 Venice movie Festival.
Farewell My Concubine (1993)
It’s a Historical movie Chinese 1993 directed by Chen Kaige, with Leslie Cheung, Gong Li and Zhang Fengyi. Adapted for the screen by Lu Wei, the movie is based on the novel by Lilian Lee and is set in a politically troubled China of the 20th century, from the earliest days of the Republic of China to the aftermath of the Cultural Revolution. It chronicles the difficult partnership between two Peking opera stars and longtime friends Cheng Dieyi (Cheung) and Duan Xiaolou (Zhang), and Xiaolou’s wife Juxian (Gong).
The movie’s themes are identity and the dark boundaries between the real world and the stage, represented by opera star Dieyi, whose unrequited love for Xiaolou continues throughout the story. To appeal to worldwide audiences, Chinese culture and Peking Opera are plotted while homosexuality, ethical issues and private perversions are kept in the background. There are also the social and political problems in 20th century China, which is typical of fifth generation Chinese cinema.
The movie garnered generally favorable reviews and won the Palme d’Or at the 1993 Cannes movie Festival, becoming the first Chinese-language movie to win the award. It also won a Golden Globe for Best Foreign Language movie and also a BAFTA for Best movie Not in English Language as well as getting 2 nominations at the 66th Academy Awards for Best Cinematography and also for Best Foreign Language movie.
A couple of weeks after its launch in China, the movie was banned unless significant changes were made. While allowing a screening in Beijing but banning its launch in other cities, the federal government objected to the depiction of homosexuality, a protagonist’s suicide, and a summary of chaos during communist-era China. The movie was allowed to return to public screenings in September 1993, less than a year after its initial release. Upon his return, the Chinese censors had made countless cuts, eliminating 14 minutes. The movie brought worldwide interest in Chinese movie directors.
The Days (1993)
It is the director’s launch as director Wang Xiaoshuai in 1993. Shot entirely in black and white, The Days follows the life of Dong, played by star musician Liu Xiaodong, and Chun (Yu Hong), married musicians who recently graduated from the Beijing Art Institute. Living meagerly in hopes of earning enough money from their jobs, it soon becomes apparent to everyone but themselves that their marital relationship is starting to falter. Wang’s first movie after finishing the Beijing movie Academy in 1989, The Days was shot on a budget plan of under $10,000, with shooting during weekend breaks with Wang’s friends playing the lead roles.
An independent movie made beyond the state movie system, The Days was blacklisted upon its release by the Chinese movie Bureau. On the international front, however, the movie was viewed in a different light. Riding on the success of Chinese cinema overseas at the time, Wang Xiaoshuai’s tiny independent movie was a very early indicator that a new Chinese cinema was starting to replace the old one. The Days has been selected in a number of movie events, most notably Rotterdam and Berlin; won the Golden Alexander at the 1995 Thessaloniki International movie Festival and a Best Director award for Wang at the 1995 Taormina movie Festival. The Days was also chosen as one of the 100 best movies ever by the BBC .
Despite its festival successes, The Days lacked distribution largely in European markets. Many viewers had the opportunity to see The Days not in cinemas, but on television. Like many underground movies, however, The Days was never released in the ROC, even on television. As the movie had been shown at numerous international movie festivals without permission, the movie Bureau blacklisted Wang from making new movies.
The Postman (1995)
It is a 1995 Mandarin Chinese movie directed by He Jianjun. It is the story of a postman played by Feng Yuanzheng who secretly reads the letters of the people he has to deliver. The movie is part of China’s sixth generation movement. In the West, the movie was very popular. Compared to most of the much more polished movies originating from China during the mid-1990s, such as Chen Kaige’s Temptress Moon (1996) or Zhang Yimou’s To Live (1994) and Raise the Red Lantern (1991), Postman was a modern image of China. The movie is part of the promising sixth generation business started with Zhang Yuan, Wang Xiaoshuai and others. Today Postman is considered one of the most interesting works of the 90s, one of the most vital and transgressive movies in its representation of homosexuality, drug use and infidelity.
East Palace, West Palace (1996)
It is a 1996 Chinese movie directed by Zhang Yuan, starring Hu Jun and Si Han, and also based on a story by author Wang Xiaobo, and is the first mainland Chinese movie with an overtly homosexual style. The movie’s title comes from both parks near the Forbidden City: the East Palace and also the West Palace. Both parks, especially their public baths, are famous for homosexual encounters in Beijing. Homosexuality is not prohibited in China, yet homosexuals are constantly harassed by the police and even arrested for “hooliganism”. The movie focuses on a young gay writer named A-Lan who, arrested by a young policeman named Xiao Shi, who is jailed and interrogated for an entire night. His life story which he tells during the investigation shows the suppression of Chinese culture.
Xiao Wu (1997)
It is a 1997 Chinese movie and also the first directed by Jia Zhangke. Starring Wang Hongwei in the title role as well as Hao Hongjian and Zuo Baitao, it was shot in Fenyang, Jia’s hometown, on 16mm. In a tiny, dirty and poor rural community trying to thwart crime in 1997, as Hong Kong transfers sovereignty, Xiao Wu is part of a team of pickpockets, most of whom have become traders. One of them is getting married and chooses not to invite old friend Xiao Wu to the wedding. Vague, unhappy, but takes no initiative to change. He meets a prostitute who likes him, but she leaves him when she finds another man. He sees his poor farming family, but ends up clashing with his parents and claiming that he will never come back.
While a pupil in the mid-1990s, Jia Zhangke continued to be a member of China’s prominent Beijing movie Academy. While still in college, Jia directed the short movie Xiao Shan Going Home which at one point was able to distribute overseas, winning the main award at the 1997 Hong Kong Independent Short movie & Video Awards. This success led Jia to connect with cinematographer Yu Lik-wai and producer Li Kit Ming. With their help, Jia was able to make the movie Xiao Wu, which would become his first feature movie. Xiao Wu was made on a small budget of $50,000.
The Opium War (1997)
It is a 1997 Chinese historical epic movie directed by Xie Jin. Winner of the Golden Rooster in 1997 and the Hundred Flowers Award in 1998 for best movie, the movie was selected in numerous movie events around the world, especially in Cannes and Montreal. The movie tells the story of the First Opium War of 1839-1842, which was fought between the Qing Empire of China and the British Empire.
Unlike many of its contemporaries, this Chinese movie was heavily supported by the state administration. Despite its clear political message. At the time of its release, with a budget of $15 million, it was one of the most expensive movies produced in China. The story of Qing Dynasty leader Lin Zexu and his fight against British expansionism is set in early 1838 during the opening stages of the dispute that would become the Opium War.
Lin Zexu is sent to Guangzhou to end the British Empire’s mass marketing of opium to the populace. British representative Eliot arrives in China to broker a measure in which opium would be dumped into the sea. This action does not please politicians in London who send huge firepower to storm the ports of China.
It is a 2000 Chinese movie written and directed by Jia Zhangke. The movie is set in the small town of Fenyang, Shanxi District, China in the late 1970s to early 1990s. The story tells of a group of artists in their twenties who try to adapt to society and their individual changes. The dialogue is a blend of local languages, mainly Jin Chinese and Mandarin. The movie has garnered high praise from critics over the years since its release, and is named among the best movies of the 2000s.
Devils on the Doorstep (2000)
It is a 2000 Chinese black comedy and war movie directed, co-written and produced by Jiang Wen, with Jiang himself, Kagawa Teruyuki, Yuan Ding and Jiang Hongbo. Shot in black and white to mimic old war movies, the movie premiered at the 2000 Cannes movie Festival on May 12, where it won the Grand Prix. At first, the movie was not allowed to be shown in cinemas in its native China, but then it was made available.
The story takes place in a small remote town called Gujiatai near Shanhaiguan, Hebei at the end of the War of Resistance against Japan. One evening, a boy takes 2 bagged slaves (Japanese soldier Teruyuki and also translator Dong Hanchen) to the front door of a farmer’s (Ma Dasan) residence to keep them until he returns for them on New Year’s Eve. The entire town is in a predicament as to what to do with both inmates.
The movie is inspired by You Fengwei’s novel Survival, which was significantly changed during the adaptation process. This movie abandoned the style of resistance against Japanese hostility of early literature to focus on the themes of peasant ignorance and the absurdity of warfare. It’s not an anti-Japanese battle movie. Chinese literature and mainstream movies have criticized the aggressor and regarded the Chinese people as victims. Jiang wanted the movie to illuminate the typical human emotional quality of condemning others for a catastrophe that surpasses Chinese belonging.
Beijing Bicycle (2001)
It is a 2001 Chinese movie by the sixth generation Chinese director Wang Xiaoshuai. The movie stars debutant actors Cui Lin and Li Bin. It premiered at the Berlin International movie Festival on February 17, 2001 and also won the Grand Jury Prize, but was eventually banned in mainland China.
The story focuses on a seventeen-year-old Guei (Cui) from the countryside who goes to Beijing to look for work. He gets a job with a shipping company, who provide him with a bicycle, but it gets stolen. At the other end of town, Jian (Li) is a schoolboy who buys Guei’s stolen bike from a second-hand market. When Guei’s search leads the two boys to meet, more than just owning the bicycle is called into question. The movie explores the world of youth along with a range of social issues, including youth misbehavior, burglary, and the contrast between rural and urban areas.
Unknown Pleasures (2002)
It is a 2002 Chinese movie directed by Jia Zhangkestarring Wu Qiong, Zhao Weiwei and Zhao Tao as 3 young men residing in Datong in 2001, part of the new “Birth Control” generation. Fed by a consistent diet of pop culture, both Chinese and Western, the movie’s characters represent a new kind of individuals in the PRC, separated from reality with the media and web spectacle.
The movie competed for the Palme d’Or at the 2002 Cannes movie Festival, which was later won by Roman Polanski for The Pianist. It is Jia’s third feature after 1997’s Xiao Wu and 2000’s Platform, and is in some cases considered the last movie in a trilogy about a China in transformation.
Blind Shaft (2003)
It is a 2003 movie about a group of hustlers in the forbidden coal mines of contemporary northern China. The movie was written and directed by Li Yang and is based on the short story Shen Mu (Sacred Grove) by Chinese author Liu Qingbang. Most of the coal mines in China are run by migrant workers who are required to endure dangerous and strenuous operations to send money home.
Track Jinming (played by Li Yixiang) and Tang Zhaoyang (Wang Shuangbao) are expert cheaters, and they run a scam. They find a naïve job seeker and convince him that they have set up 3 profitable coal mining businesses with a family member. The family member actually didn’t arrive in time leaving the job opportunity. After a couple of days of working the mine, they kill the victim and, making the murder look like an accident, use his death to get money to monitor the mine.
The World (2004)
It is a 2004 Chinese movie directed and written by Jia Zhangke about the work and life of many young people who move from the countryside to an amusement park. Starring Jia’s muse, Zhao Tao, together with Cheng Taishen, The World was movieed in a real amusement park located in Beijing, Beijing World Park, which recreates places on Earth at short distances for Chinese travellers. The World presents new modern technologies such as coin-operated telescopes, electronic video cameras, mobile phones and electronic solutions in the amusement park as tourist devices to circumnavigate the globe, highlighting globalization. The World was Jia’s first movie to be cleared by the Chinese federal government. The movie premiered at the 2004 Venice movie Festival on September 4, 2004, It failed to win the Golden Lion, which went to Mike Leigh’s movie Vera Drake,
Still Life (2006)
It is a 2006 Chinese movie directed by Jia Zhangke. Shot in the old town of Fengjie, a village on the Yangtze River which is damaged by the structure of the Three Gorges Dam, Still Life tells the story of 2 individuals trying to find their partners. The movie premiered at the 2006 Venice movie Festival and was the winner of the Golden Lion for Best movie. Like The World, Jia Zhangke’s previous movie, Still Life was approved by Chinese authorities and was released uncensored both in China and overseas. The Chinese press, after seeing its success, also offered the movie and its director good media insurance coverage. The movie was elected the third best movie in recent years in a study of the Toronto International movie Festival Cinematheque, made up of 60 movie professionals from all over the world.
The Founding of a Republic (2009)
It is a Chinese historical movie produced in 2009 to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the Republic of China and was made to depict the last years of the Chinese communist revolution at the end of the Second Sino-Japanese War (1937-1945). This movie was co-directed by Huang Jianxin e Han Sanping, and the cast consists of many well-known stars such as Andy Lau, Ge You, as well as various other directors such as Jiang Wen and Chen Kaige. The main main characters Mao Zedong and Chiang Kai-shek were played by very illustrious stars, Tang Guoqiang and Zhang Guoli. One of the goals of this movie, in addition to reenacting the events of the Chinese communist revolution, was also to bring in a younger audience to watch movies that focus on federal government publicity, which they intend to achieve by including well-known stars who would definitely attract attention. of young people. It is the first zhuxuanlu i.e. propaganda movie to work only with cinematic audio-visual approaches to achieve its ideological and political goals. This movie was released on September 16, 2009, in mainland China and had an incredible amount of support from the Communist Party during its release.
A Touch of Sin (2013)
It is a 2013 Chinese episodic movie directed by Jia Zhangke and starring Jiang Wu, Wang Baoqiang, Luo Lanshan and also Zhao Tao, wife of Jia. The movie includes 4 loosely interconnected tableaus set in vastly different geographic and social locations across contemporary China, based on current events and also drawing from wuxia tales and Chinese opera. It was shortlisted for the Palme d’Or at the 2013 Cannes movie Festival, with Jia winning for Best Screenplay. The movie contains 4 interconnected stories which are shown in chronological order.
Mountains May Depart (2015)
It is a 2015 Mandarin-language Chinese movie and also the eighth feature movie directed by Jia Zhangke. It participated for the Palme d’Or at the 2015 Cannes movie Festival and was chosen in the Special Presentations area section of the 2015 Toronto International movie Festival. It is a mystical and exciting work by a director whose creative thinking develops more and more , a passionate work imbued with a profound humanism.
In 1999 Fenyang, 25-year-old shop owner Tao finds herself in a love triangle between Liangzi, a coal mine worker who has unrequited feelings for her, and Jinsheng, a wealthy gas station owner who , despite her being mean and arrogant, he desires her. Tao revealing love for Jinsheng triggers a battle between her 2 suitors. Tao and Jinsheng decide to get married. Liangzi, feeling truly unable to maintain a platonic relationship with Tao, leaves the place.
The Founding of an Army (2017)
It is a 2017 historical Chinese movie produced by China movie Group Corporation to celebrate the 90th anniversary of the beginning of the Liberation Army. Written by Han Sanping and directed by Andrew Lau, it is the third installation in the Founding of New China trilogy, in addition to The Founding of a Republic (2009) and The Founding of a Party (2011). Movie includes famous actors chinese stars. It was launched on July 28, 2017, on the 90th anniversary of the inception of the Liberation Army. The story begins in 1927 at the beginning of the Nanchang Uprising.
Ash Is Purest White (2018)
It is a 2018 Chinese movie directed by Jia Zhangke. It was selected for the Palme d’Or competition at the 2018 Cannes movie Festival. The story is loosely based on a gang leader from Jia Zhangke’s childhood years, which he had enjoyed as a good example. Jia takes another look at the familiar styles while still observing modern Chinese culture with a keen eye. The theme of self-sacrifice and forgiveness is told against the backdrop of China’s growth.
An Elephant Sitting Still (2018)
It is a 2018 Chinese movie written, directed and edited by Hu Bo. The first and only feature movie by novelist-turned-director Hu, who died by suicide not long after completing his movie on October 12, 2017 at the age of 29, is based on a short story of the same title from his novel Huge Crack of the 2017, concerning 4 people who take a trip to a city in northern China to see the elephant of the same name. It made its opening night in the Forum area of the 68th Berlin International movie Festival. The movie received praise from established directors such as Béla Tarr, Wang Bing, Ang Lee and Gus Van Sant.
Béla Tarr introduced the movie to a worldwide audience, and claimed he had done too little to prevent his pupil’s suicide, and that through his wonderful movie he would be remembered permanently. An outstanding directorial debut that unfortunately serves as its creator’s epitaph, the movie provides an uncompromisingly bleak yet emotional picture of life in contemporary China. Although the movie has dramatic scenes, untimely deaths, unfortunate accidents, unjustified assaults, the story never loses its sense of poise. It is a vibrant socio-political analysis and an intimate human portrait.
So Long, My Son (2019)
It is a 2019 Chinese movie directed by Wang Xiaoshuai. He was chosen to contend for the Golden Bear at the 69th Berlin International movie Festival. At the celebration, the movie won both major acting awards, with Wang Jingchun and Yong Mei winning the Silver Bear for Best Actor and Actress. The movie tells the story of two family members for more than thirty years: Liu Yaojun, Wang Liyun and their son Liu Xing (“Xingxing”) along with Shen Yingming, Li Haiyan and their son Shen Hao (“Haohao’ ). Haohao and Xingxing were born on the same day. Both family members were initially close and also operated in the same manufacturing plant, but ended up separated in the 1980s. It is a heartbreaking drama within a family during the transformation of contemporary China.