Beauty and Sacrifice: Images of Women in Chinese Cinema

11/8/13 to 12/8/13

As a companion series to the exhibition Beauty Revealed: Images of Women in Qing Dynasty Chinese Painting, we present a small selection of Chinese films that portray women, their desires, and their sacrifices. Two of the films, from the 1930s, feature the legendary actress Ruan Lingyu, while a third, Stanley Kwan's Center Stage (1992), is an innovative modernist biography of Ruan. Wong Kar-wai's masterpiece, In the Mood for Love-in a new 35mm print-and Cecile Tang Shu Shuen rare 1969 melodrama The Arch, round out the series.

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Past Films

  • The Arch

    • Sunday, December 8 3 pm

    Cecile Tang Shu Shuen (Hong Kong/U.S., 1969). A Ming dynasty widow, beloved for her grace and kindness, becomes tempted by a visiting soldier in this investigation of propriety, tradition, and repression. Photographed by Satyajit Ray's main cinematographer and edited by Les Blank, this early precursor of the Hong Kong New Wave was praised as “a film of poetic beauty” by Anaïs Nin. (95 mins)

  • In the Mood for Love

    • Saturday, November 30 6:30pm

    Wong Kar-wai (Hong Kong, 2000). Imported Print! Acknowledged as the most acclaimed film of the twenty-first century, Wong Kar-wai's romantic masterpiece ostensibly tracks the relationship between two neighbors (Maggie Cheung, Tony Leung Chiu-wai) in early 1960s Hong Kong. “Has a strong claim to being the best-looking film you'll ever see”(Empire). (98 mins)

  • Center Stage

    • Friday, November 29 7 pm

    Stanley Kwan (Hong Kong, 1992). Imported Print! Maggie Cheung stars in Stanley Kwan's modernist version of the biopic, chronicling the life and tragic early death of the Chinese film star Ruan Lingyu. “A masterpiece . . . the greatest Hong Kong film I've seen” (Jonathan Rosenbaum, Chicago Reader). (124 mins)

  • New Women

    • Saturday, November 9 6:30 pm

    Cai Chusheng (China, 1935). Imported Print! A strong-willed teacher and writer (Ruan Lingyu) is driven to despair by gossip and lecherous men in this intriguing, hard-hitting melodrama given further power by Ruan's own post-filming suicide. (104 mins)

  • The Goddess

    • Friday, November 8 7 pm

    Wu Yonggang (China, 1934). Imported Print! Judith Rosenberg on piano. Ruan Lingyu delivers one of her most luminous performances as a mother forced into prostitution in this classic of the Golden Age of Shanghai cinema. Could make even jaded denizens of pre-Code Hollywood blush. (82 mins)