Crows and Sparrows
(Wuya yu maque)
(House and Tea Money)
Weihong Bao is an associate professor of East Asian languages and cultures and film studies at UC Berkeley.
Zhao Dan, Wu Yin, Wei Heling, Sun Daolin,
A Shanghai apartment building serves as a microcosm of China’s class struggles in Zheng Junli’s striking urban drama, filmed during the last days of China’s Nationalist rule and already looking forward to, as one character states, “a New Society.” A scheming Nationalist official and his greedy wife purchase an apartment building and proceed to lord it over the hardworking families still renting there. Meanwhile, a real war for China’s future rumbles across the nation, mirroring the metaphorical one within the building’s walls. While filming, Zheng provided Nationalist censors with a false script in order to conceal his true intentions; after the government fell, he reshot to reinforce his message.