as China's Gone with the Wind, the film can still provoke floods of tears from older Chinese audiences when shown today. The film opens with an ideal couple and their son. However, they are separated by the war when the husband retreats with the Kuomintang to the interior. There he is gradually corrupted and becomes the lover of a rich society woman. His faithful wife suffers through the war in Shanghai, waiting patiently for his return, but he comes back as a Kuomintang carpet-bagger, and the film climaxes when his wife discovers that he is the husband of the woman for whom she is working as a maid. He disowns her and she drowns herself in the Yangtze.
Disillusion with the Kuomintang and their hangers-on is even more pronounced in the films that depict post-war conditions. Films like Myriads of Lights, Crows and Sparrows, and San Mao (adapted from a newspaper cartoon about an orphan) were all enjoyable and humorous, but none attempted to hide the appalling social contradictions of these years and the resentment those who had suffered in Shanghai felt towards their compatriots who had managed to profit from the war. Stylistically, these films featured more subtle ensemble playing from actors seasoned by many years of stage work. Although less obviously pastiched than the films of the 1930s, they too represent post-colonial appropriation for prerevolutionary ends, but this time drawing on the western spoken stage drama and its cinematic equivalents, rather than popular culture.
The second 'golden age' ended China's pre-1949 cinematic history on a fitting high note. In retrospect, it is remarkable that five years of film-making in the 1930s ( 1932-7) and three years in the 1940s ( 1946-9) should stand out so strongly in a total film-making history of forty years ( 1909-49). However, it would be wrong to suggest that these two 'golden ages' appeared out of the blue. Rather, they represented windows of opportunity when talent that had been long developing was able to make itself visible. Some would argue that such an opportunity was not to present itself again for another fortyfive years, until One and Eight and Yellow Earth (both 1984) heralded the arrival of another golden age of Chinese cinema.
Bergeron, Régis ( 1977), Le Cinéma chinois, i: 1905-1949.
Berry, Chris (ed.) ( 1991). Perspectives on Chinese Cinema.
Cheng Jihua et al. ( 1963), Zhongguo, dianying fazhanshi ('History of the development of Chinese cinema').
Clark, Paul ( 1987), Chinese Cinema: Culture and Politics since 1949.
Du Yunzhi ( 1972). Zhongguo Dianyingshi ('History of Chinese cinema').
Leyda, Jay ( 1972), Dianying: Electric Shadows.
Quiquemelle, Marie-Claire, and Jean-Loup Passek (eds.) ( 1985), Le Cinéma chinois.
Toroptsev, Sergei ( 1979), Ocherk istorii kitaiskogo kino 1896-1966 ('Essays on the history of Chinese cinema').
The Great Kanto Earthquake of the first of September 1923 destroyed Tokyo and the culture it had supported. The Japanese chose not to rebuild the city as it had been and abandoned its old forms for a new appearance. The destruction caused by the earthquake also gave the decisive impetus for the development of new kinds of Japanese film. From 1924 to the early 1930s a number of classics of Japanese cinema were made at Nikkatsu, Shochiku, Teikine, Makino, and some small independent studios. Production and invention were stimulated as archaic forms were abandoned and film-makers embraced new European art cinemas.
Although the destruction caused by the earthquake was the decisive catalyst for these changes, they had been underway for several years before. As early as 1922, such films as Reiko no wakare ('On the verge of spiritual light', Kokkatsu/Kiyomatsu Hosoyama) and Yôjo no mai ('Dance of a sorceress', Shochiku/Yoshinobu Ikeda) had appeared in the New School genre. These were influenced by German Expressionism, partially employing the contorted stage settings featured in The Cabinet of Dr Caligari ( 1919) and From Morn to Midnight (Von Morgens bis Mitternacht, 1920). Formula rather than story had been the important factor in Japanese film-making since its inception, and so the German expressionist style could be incorporated very swiftly. Film-makers took the German imports as a 'film art' template; a new formula to reproduce. Kenji Mizo guchi imitated the form in his Chi to rei ('Blood and Spirit', Nikkatsu, 1923) completed just before the earthquake and one of the last to be made in Nikkatsu's famous Mukojima studio.
The earthquake did not destroy the Mukojima studio, but it made film-making in Tokyo very difficult. Nikkatsu closed the studio and moved its entire production section to Kyoto, where it would remain for the next ten years. Kyoto, the ancient capital, was traditionally the