Title   Cast   Director   Year Shown  Other Info    Country  Notes 

USA / Hong Kong, 1968, 97 min

Shown in 1968


Shu Shuen
Shu Shuen
Shu Shuen
Subrata Mitra
Les Blank, C.C. See
Lisa Lu, Roy Chiao Hung, Hilda Chou Hsuan, Li Ying, Wen Hsiu, Liang Jui


Film Dynasty Productions


New Directors series; Shu Shuen attended.

Films from China have not been widely seen by American audiences, usually because the popular cinema of that country (as in India) is made for commercial purposes, catering to an unsophisticated taste for fantasy and escapism-in-entertainment. This is particularly true of the Hong Kong film industry, one of the largest in the world, and whether a young group of directors would ever appear to change the creative tide was a matter of conjecture. However, a young woman-director has made an independent feature film (her first), which has attracted critical attention as a promising piece of creative cinema. She is known professionally as Shu Shuen, and was born in Hong Kong with the name of Cecile Tang. Miss Tang originally intended to become a novelist, but after trying to overcome language barriers, she discovered that the film medium was really her forte. She completed her film studies at the University of Southern California, and worked for an industrial film and television firm where she received her training in the rigors of production. The Arch is reminiscent of a classical story in the Ibsen or Jamesian mode—in an 18th-century village, a proud widow, Madam Tung, has allowed herself to be treated almost as a deity because of her virtuous behavior. When a troop of soldiers arrive to protect the farmers from bandits, the villagers believe this is a reward from the Emperor for having requested that an arch be constructed in honor of Madam Tung and her saintliness. Exactly how Madam Tung manages to control her emotions when the troop captain attracts her (and her daughter also responds to the same man) is the crisis of this romantic tale. The visual aspects of The Arch are delicately beautiful (one notices that the cameraman is Satyajit Ray's famous technician) and the acting is profoundly moving and romantic. There is an indescribably, haunting quality about this film—the sort that lingers in the mind when one has seen something rare, exotic and new.

—Albert Johnson

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