Last week I did my blog on Reading and how much I love doing it. This week I’m turning my attention to another of my greatest hobbies, watching movies. Yes, most of us have been to the cinema, and even more of us have watched TV for many years, and with the invention of videos, DVDs and now downloads on our PCs or iMacs, Iphones, and some of us even make home movies and upload them on YouTubes and other websites. Never before have films and entertainment become so easily accessible and they are virtually everywhere in our everyday lives.
For some of us who have lived for a few decades, we bear witness to an amazing change and transformation in our relatively short lifetime. I remember there was a time back in China when we crammed into an outdoor square or a make-do platform and eagerly waited for the showing of a black and white film. There were times when we queued patiently for a cinema ticket and went in excitedly, watching a foreign film with bated breath. Often we brought our own chairs or just sat on the hard and dusty ground.
I don’t remember the first time I ever watched a movie, but I do remember back in the early 1970s when television became available but not every family could afford one, there were organised showings at a designated place. There were not many good Chinese films due to the straight-jacketing of the notorious Cultural Revolution, but there were quite a lot of foreign language films which were dubbed so the Chinese audiences could enjoy them. Depending on which countries China was friendly with at the time, we would be shown the films from our ‘friends’.
In my memory, I watched quite a few Northern Korean films and I remember one particularly well, and it was called The Girl Who Sells Flowers. It was a story about two sisters separated after the war, one in the South and one in the North. Of course, the one in the South suffered terribly. It was a heart-wrenching story and I cried almost non-stop and nearly passed out when the film came to an end. Now on reflection, I think the Koreans are good at making heartbreaking movies, as a few of the modern South Korean ones I have watched in recent years also made me tearful. Perhaps I just had a very soft spot somewhere or my emotions are easily stirred.
In the 1970s and 1980s while I was still in China, going to the cinema was a huge treat for me, and I went as much as I could. I saw films from Albania, the former Yugoslavia, India, Japan, Pakistan, Egypt, and later on films from our former arch enemies such as UK, France, Germany and America. We had wonderful dub voice actors, some of whom were so famous that they were household names. A few years ago I was saddened to learn that those once famous dub actors were struggling to get work, as many of them were laid off by their employers, the film studios across the country.
My passion for films started early in life, but it was further nurtured and intensified after I arrived in the UK. Going to cinema is still a wonderful treat and sitting on the comfy sofa and indulging in a great movie is a pastime hard to beat. In the past two decades, it was impossible to calculate how many films I have watched in both cinemas and on Video/DVDs. I guess on the basis of between 2 to 10 movies per week, the number would be quite staggering. I have watched so many good to great movies, again it is not possible to name them all.
In the past year or so, my knowledge of films have become more intimate. In the Autumn of 2009, when my husband and I visited Malaysia, John’s film director friend Razak was making a Bollywood type of movie called Ratu, meaning The Beauty Queen in English. Razak was doing an audition for the leading lady, and I was lucky enough to be present, watching beautiful girls strutting their dance and acting routine to win the part.
A week ago, we went to the Screening of The Insatiable Moon in the Midlands Arts Centre, and we heard the producers talking about the process leading to the filming and during the filming. John knows the producer well and we have watched his films before.
Only a couple of days ago, I signed up a wonderful Chinese director Lu Chuan on my Facebook. To be honest, to say that I was thrilled was an understatement. He is by far the most famous person on my Facebook. I have watched all his three films to date and they were all amazing films in very different ways. His most recent film is The City of Life and Death, about the horrendous war crime that Japanese committed against the Chinese, the Massacre of Nanjing in 1937. This film has received rave reviews from critics in America, and worldwide.
John returned from Malaysia early this morning and greeted me with a bit of news on the side: he played a hospital doctor in Razak’s new romantic comedy, so now I can claim that I married a film star :-).
One day, I hope that my books will be made into films or at least a TV series. Aren’t I a dreamer? We live and we dream!
What are your all time favorite movies? I’d love to hear from you, and I look forward to sharing with you my best-loved films in my next blog.