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Das Leben der Anderen

The hit at Telluride
This was my favorite film at Telluride. Everyone with whom I talked had the same feeling. It generated the most "buzz." I hope it has a wide audience in the US. The acting by those who experienced the Stasi was moving and believable. Ulrich Muhe as the Stasi Officer was brilliant. Most of us cried during the final scene. Florian Henckel-Donnersmarck's direction with its twists and turns kept the audience glued to the screen. Because of the film's popularity, it was scheduled again for another showing at the festival. Both Muhe and Henckel-Donnersmarck were present and were stopped where ever they went during the festival. I recommend this film and gave it a 10.

Tao hua qi xue ji

DVD New of The Peach Girl made
I really believe that Ruan Ling-yu and Jin Yan are a great team. They made several films together which were very popular. Ruan committed suicide at age 24 after making 29 films (see my book "Ruan Ling-yu: The Goddess of Shanghai" for her tragic life story). I am also writing a book about Jin Yan. The Peach Girl is out on a restored version with a beautiful score by Donald Sosin and is available from the San Francisco Silent Film Festival ( The photography of the film reminds one of Chinese landscapes. Lianhua Film Company made many films in the 1930s that were critical of feudalism yet were presented in a soap opera format to fend off KMT censors.

Shen nu

A great example of the work of Ruan Ling-yu and director Wu Yonggang
One of the most important productions of the golden age of Chinese films because of its symbolism was director Wu Yonggang's first endeavor,"The Goddess" (Shennu). The title of the film was the Shanghai way of describing a woman who sells her body. Ruan plays a prostitute who uses her earnings to support and educate her son. The heroine is forced to enter the oldest of professions, as it is the only way for her and her child to survive and to provide for his education. More than any other film, "The Goddess" captures the misery and hopelessness of China at the time. Ruan is the symbol of China's suffering. Only as a prostitute could she support her child and give him an education. "The Goddess" was a breakthrough for the director Wu in his sympathetic depiction of a prostitute. He used montage to portray Shanghai at night. He also shows that she was moral, but evil forces were the cause of her plight. A new DVD with English inter-titles and a beautiful piano score by Kevin Purrone is available from The San Francisco Silent Film Festival ( My new book "Ruan Ling-yu: The Goddess of Shanghai" published by Hong Kong University Press tells the tragic story of Ruan Ling-yu.

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