Fei Mu

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Fei Mu
Chinese name 費穆 (traditional)
Chinese name 费穆 (simplified)
Pinyin Fèi Mù (Mandarin)
Born October 10, 1906
Shanghai, China
Died January 31, 1951(1951-01-31) (aged 44)
Hong Kong
Occupation Director, screenwriter, film producer
Children Barbara Fei

Fei Mu (1906–1951), also romanised as Fey Mou, was a Chinese film director of the pre-Communist era. His Spring in a Small Town (1948) was declared the greatest Chinese film ever made by the Hong Kong Film Critics Society.

Biography

Fei Mu was born in Shanghai, China in 1906. Before becoming a director, he worked as an assistant of the film pioneer Hou Yao.[1]

Known for his artistic style and costume dramas, Fei made his first film, Night in the City (1933), produced by the Lianhua Film Company), at the young age of 27, and he was met with both critical and popular acclaim; the film is now lost. Continuing to make films with Lianhua, Fei directed films throughout the 1930s and became a major talent in the industry, with films like Blood on Wolf Mountain (1936) which is often seen as an allegory on the war with Japan,[2] and Song of China (also 1935) , a glorification of traditional values that was part of the New Life Movement. Later, Song of China became one of the few films that had a limited release in the United States.[3]

Fei's legacy as one of China's greatest directors was sealed with Spring in a Small Town (1948) about a love triangle in post-war China (it was later remade by Tian Zhuangzhuang in 2002 as Springtime in a Small Town). In 2005, Spring in a Small Town was declared the greatest Chinese film ever made by the Hong Kong Film Critics Society.[4] Fei remained active in this so-called "Second Golden Age" and also directed China's first color film Remorse at Death (1948), which incorporated Beijing Opera and starred Mei Lanfang.[5] Following the Communist revolution in 1949, Fei Mu, along with many other artists and intellectuals fled to Hong Kong. There he founded Longma Film Company ("Dragon-Horse Films") with Zhu Shilin and Fei Luyi and produced (under the Longma name) Zhu Shilin's The Flower Girl (1951).

Following his death in Hong Kong in 1951, Fei Mu and his work fell into obscurity, as much of his filmography was forgotten or ignored on the Mainland, rejected by leftist critics as indicative of rightist ideologies.[6] It was not until the 1980s, when the China Film Archive re-opened after being closed down during the Cultural Revolution, did Fei Mu's work find a new audience. Most significant was a new print made by the China Film Archive from the original negative of Spring in a Small Town.[7]

Filmography

Director

Year English Title Chinese Title Notes
1933 Night in the City 城市之夜 Also known as City Nights
1934 A Sea of Fragrant Snow 香雪海 Also known as A Nun's Love
1934 Life 人生
1935 Song of China 天倫 Also known as Filial Piety; co-directed with Luo Mingyou
1936 Blood on Wolf Mountain 狼山喋血記 Also known as Bloodbath in Langshan and Bloodbath on Wolf Mountain
1937 Martyrs of the Northern Front 北戰場精忠錄
1937 Gold-Plated City 鍍金的城 Also known as the Gilded City; Chinese opera film
1937 Murder in the Oratory 斬經堂 Chinese opera film
1937 Nightmares in Spring Chamber 夢斷春閨 Episode in Lianhua Symphony
1940 Confucius 孔夫子 Thought lost, rediscovered in 2001
1941 Children of the World 世界兒女 Co-directed with Jacob Fleck and Luise Fleck
1941 The Beauty 國色天香
1941 Songs of Ancient China 古中國之歌
1946 The Magnificent Country 錦繡山河
1948 The Little Cowheard 小放牛
1948 Remorse at Death 生死恨 First Chinese color film; also known as Happiness in neither Life nor Death; Chinese opera film
1948 Spring in a Small Town 小城之春

Screenwriter

Year English Title Chinese Title
1934 Life 人生
1936 Blood on Wolf Mountain 狼山喋血記
1936 On Stage and Backstage 前台与後台
1937 Martyrs of the Northern Front 北戰場精忠錄
1937 Nightmares in Spring Chamber 夢斷春閨
1940 Confucius 孔夫子
1941 Children of the World 世界兒女
1941 Songs of Ancient China 古中國之歌
1946 The Magnificent Country 錦繡山河

Producer

Year English Title Chinese Title
1951 The Flower Girl 花姑娘

Further reading

  • Pang, Laikwan (2002), Building a New China in Cinema: The Chinese Left-Wing Cinema Movement, 1932-1937, Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc., ISBN 0-7425-0946-X

See also

Notes

  1. ^ Rojas, Carlos; Chow, Eileen (2013). The Oxford Handbook of Chinese Cinemas. Oxford University Press. p. 63. ISBN 978-0-19-976560-7.
  2. ^ "A Blue Apple in a City for Sale". Time Magazine. 1977-03-27. Retrieved 2007-04-15.
  3. ^ "Song of China, aka Filial Piety (Tianlun)". UCSD Chinese Cinema Web-Based Learning Center. 2003-01-10. Archived from the original on 2007-08-14. Retrieved 2007-07-18.
  4. ^ "Welcome to the 24th Hong Kong Film Awards". 24th Annual Hong Kong Film Awards. Retrieved 2007-04-14.
  5. ^ Zhang Yingjin, Chinese National Cinema, (London: Routledge Press, 2004), 101.
  6. ^ Li, Cheuk-to (2000), "Spring in a Small Town: Mastery and Restraint", Cinemaya, 49
  7. ^ Artificial-Eye.com staff. "Then and Now: Two Versions of Springtime in a Small Town". Artificial-Eye.com. Archived from the original on 2006-10-29. Retrieved 2007-04-14.

External links

  • Fei Mu on IMDb
  • Fei Mu at the Chinese Movie Database
  • A brief biography of Fei Mu
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