Fishing village girl Ling Ling sets off to look for her cousin in Shanghai. She soon finds out that Shanghai is a city full of vice: she is raped, sold into prostitution, and later becomes a socialite who uses her earnings to help others. She still waits at the pier in the hope that she sees her sailor lover return from the sea one day. By then, the revolution is starting to gain momentum.
Sun Yu was born on March 21, 1900 in Chongqing (Chungking), Sichuan province, to an intellectual family which valued education highly. Sun’s father, who had been a successful scholar at the provincial level during the Qing (Manchu) dynasty, was a historical researcher who traveled around China, and as a boy Sun Yu often went along, which added considerably to the future filmmaker’s experience and knowledge. The family later moved to Shanghai, where Sun Yu saw his first movie in a theater.
After graduating from middle school, Sun Yu passed the entrance exams for admission to Qinghua University, where movies and poetry became his twin passions. In his third year, he entered a film reviewing competition and won the grand prize. Among the judges in the competition were future Chinese film directors Zhu Shilin and Fei Mu, while the chair of the panel was Luo Mingyou, who as the head of the Lianhua (United Photoplay Service) Film Company would one day rewrite the history of Chinese… read more
After watching this film again 2 years later and learning a little more about the cultural revolution, it has changed my perspective. Before I saw it as a lyrical (melodramatically inconsistent) tragedy about lovers who are caught up in bad fortune and suffer because of political upheaval. Now I see it as a sad little letter from the past about people who were willing to die for something that never really happened.