The Inspector and the Prince
Introduction by Paola Iovene, Assistant Professor in Chinese Literature, East Asian Languages and Civilizations, and the College.
The general decline of opera films in China since the 1990s makes the award-winning The Inspector and the Prince a rare sample of its recent development. The film stages the Peking Opera performance of a legendary story about an incorruptible inspector from the Qing Dynasty, who must carry out his mission against scheming local officials and meet the Prince's challenge of his own integrity and alcoholic tolerance! Though a studio commissioned mainstream production, the film was audaciously experimental at the hand of director Zheng Dasheng. It liberally complements the artificiality and conventionality of opera performance with an "alienation effect" that exposes cinematic devices, from camera work and editing to set design, lighting and musical accompaniment.
(Zheng Dasheng, 2004, China, Mandarin with subtitles, digital, 110 min)
Film and theater director Zheng Dasheng was born into an acting and producing family in Shanghai, but grew up in Tianjin. He earned his undergraduate degree from Shanghai Drama Academy China before receiving his MFA in filmmaking at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. His film A Tao (2000) won a jury prize at the Shanghai International TV Festival. In 2005, Death of Wang Bo won a Golden Rooster at the Hundred Flowers Film Festival. He also filmed Harmonious China, a thematic movie that was shown inside the China Pavilion at Shanghai World Expo. His 2012 feature film Useless Man was an Official Selection of the 36th Montreal International Film Festival.
Paola Iovene is an associate professor in East Asian Languages and Civilizations at the University of Chicago, and the co-editor of Chinese Opera Films: A Special Issue of the Opera Quarterly.
Chinese Opera Film Series
The Film Studies Center is proud to present the Chinese Opera Film series as part of the University of Chicago's Envisioning China: A Festival of Arts and Culture. From the magnificent art and spectacle of Chinese opera to rarely screened silent films and world premiere performances, the Envisioning China festival opens a window on the rich cultural heritage of China, past and present. Sponsored by the Smart Museum of Art, Film Studies Center, UCArts, Logan Center for the Arts, and the Department of Cinema and Media Studies, with additional support from the Chinese Consulate General in Chicago and the China Film Archive.