Monday, 6 August 2007

Immortal Story (1986)

Chinese title: Flowers on the Sea.

Immortal Story (1986), YonfanBefore Hou Hsiao-Hsien's Flowers of Shanghai (1998), there's this movie made by Yonfan. And incidentally - or may not be a coincidence at all - the 2 movies share the same Chinese title.

The beautiful Chinese euphemism for high-class call girl is 'social flower', and brothel is called 'flower house' (not another name for florist).

The Chinese title is named after the film's theme song - Jenny Yan's most representative work. This is a very evocative song that sets the mood for the movie nicely. The multi talented Sylvia Chang could have sung it, but they decided to go with the original singer.

This movie has nothing to do with the French classic The Immortal Story (1968), except that both stories take place in Macao (note that one was made in 1968, the other 1986).

The cityscape of Macao in this movie was dominated by only 1 casino - the old Lisboa. Before it was transformed into the loud and flashy Asian Las Vegas today (only much bigger in terms of revenue generated), it was still an idyllic sleepy little Portuguese colonial town that this film was set in.

Like its idyllic town, the movie moves at a leisurely pace. Beneath its glitter and luxury the story lies decadence and love triangle of a Chinese woman and a Japanese man vie for the love of a Chinese songstress turned social flower.

Like Zhang Yimou, Yonfan was also born in Mainland China and studied photography. This transfer of skills made the visuals of their films very easy on the eyes.

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