Center Stage

(Ruan Lingyu)
(The Actress)

Imported 35mm Print

A masterpiece . . . the greatest Hong Kong film I’ve seen.

Jonathan Rosenbaum, Chicago Reader

Maggie Cheung, Tony Leung Ka-fai, Shin Hong, Carina Lau,

After a string of memorable performances as strong-willed, beautiful, and virtuous (even in vice) women, the Chinese actress Ruan Lingyu committed suicide in 1935, at the age of twenty-four. She is now acknowledged as one of the country’s greatest performers. Stanley Kwan’s innovative film goes far beyond the traditional biopic to offer up several strata of “reality,” “reenactment,” and “cinema.” Detailed recreations of scenes from the actress’s too-short life (with Maggie Cheung as Ruan and Tony Leung Ka-fai, Carina Lau, and Waise Lee as other real-life figures) combine with documentary interviews of her contemporaries, actual footage from her existing silent films, and even out-of-character discussions between Cheung, Kwan, and other cast members about Ruan, her work, and her mystique. Like a Russian doll opening up layer after hidden layer, Center Stage reveals a modernist take on the ways in which cinema and culture create an actress, a legend, and a woman.

Jason Sanders
  • Yau Tai On-ping
Based On
  • a story by Peggy Chiu

  • Poon Hangseng
  • Cantonese
  • Mandarin
  • with English subtitles
Print Info
  • Color
  • 35mm
  • 126 mins
  • Hong Kong Film Archive
  • Fortune Star Media Limited