Wutai Jiemei

Jin Xie

[Due sorelle] T. int.: Stage Sisters. Scen.: Lingu Wang, Jin Xie, Jin Xu. F.: Zhenxiang Chen, Daming Zhou. M.: Lijun Zhang. Int.: Fang Xie (Chunhua Zhu), Yindi Cao (Yue hong Xing), Nan Deng (A Xin), Ran Ding (ufficiale Pan), Lin Dong (Ni San Laoye), Qi Feng (Xing Shi Fu), Ai-sheng Gao (Ji ang Bo), Wei Li (Tang), Jingyi Luo (Yu Guiqing), Ji Ma (Qian Dakui). Prod.: Li Ding per Shanghai Film Studios DCP. D.: 112′. Col.

T. it.: Italian title. T. int.: International title. T. alt.: Alternative title. Sog.: Story. Scen.: Screenplay. F.: Cinematography. M.: Editing. Scgf.: Set Design. Mus.: Music. Int.: Cast. Prod.: Production Company. L.: Length. D.: Running Time. f/s: Frames per second. Bn.: Black e White. Col.: Color. Da: Print source

Film Notes

Two Stage Sisters is unexpectedly fluid and subtle, with emotions that ring true. It’s also a sweeping, ambitious narrative that moves from the provinces to the theater district of Shanghai and back again. Some cramped staging may reflect a lack of resources, but Mr. Xie’s technical assurance and the overall level of the acting are the equal of at least a modest Hollywood drama of the 1950s or ’60s. Xie Fang and Cao Yindi star as Chun- hua and Yuehong, the sisters of the title, who are actually friends brought together in the 1930s when Chunhua flees an arranged marriage and is taken in by the traveling Chinese opera company to which Yuehong belongs. The two good-looking young women become provincial stars, which gets them in trouble when a local landowner invites them to sing at his house and expects Yuehong to stay and give him and his friends a private recital. She escapes, but in the aftermath, Chunhua, who takes the rap for having insulted the gentry, is chained to a post in the public square by the Nationalist gendarmes. It’s one of many chances for Ms. Xie to flash her talent for noble suffering. But through much of the film, the moral crises and the class conflicts play out almost exactly as they did in American pictures of the 1930s and ’40s. The values of Chunhua and her new Communist friends differ very little from the values of the Midwesterners drawn to Los Angeles and New York in our own proletarian dramas. And the film’s feminism is no less genuine for being politically motivated. Its emotional realism was most likely one of the reasons that the film was banned and Mr. Xie imprisoned once the Cultural Revolution began. The obvious delight Mr. Xie took in portraying the 1930s louche life in Shanghai, his hometown, probably didn’t help.

Mike Hale, Two ‘Sisters’ From Time of Mao Star Again, “The New York Times”, 25 September 2009

Restored in 4k in 2014 by Shanghai International Film Festival, in collaboration with Shang hai Film Group, Shanghai Film Technology Co., Shanghai Film Museum, sponsored by Jaeger-LeCoutre, at L'immagine Ritrovata laboratory