CROWS AND SPARROWS - Wuya yu maque
A film by Zheng Junli
B&W, Mandarin w/electronic engl. st, 108 min
Cast: Zhao Dan, Wu Yin, Wei Heling
This controversial film garnered a stupendous reputation as a Neo-Realist work as well as a significant cultural artifact in China.
Fearing a radical change in the political landscape, a miserly owner of a crowded boarding house puts his property up for sale in Shanghai just prior to the Communist Revolution. He, however, has not anticipated the proletarian solidarity that his tenants plan to demonstrate.
A cross-section of Chinese workers comprise the tenant group: students, a teacher and his family, a salesman, and a clerk. They rely on one another to keep their homes and buy themselves time until the Red Army arrives to quash any capitalist refugees who have not already fled for Taiwan. If the tenants can just stick together, they will achieve their goal.
In order to receive official approval to make this film, director Zheng Junli deceived the Chinese censors by giving them an innocuous script he had no intention of shooting. He kept the real screenplay hidden in the ceiling of the film studio and updated it daily to reflect current events.
Director Zheng Junli died in prison in 1969, a victim of the Cultural Revolution.
”Undeniably comic. Surprisingly ebullient.” – J. Hoberman,
“****” - Brian Taylor,
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