Butterfly Lovers

Chinese Opera Film Series
Sunday, April 6, 2014 - 2:00pm

Introduction by Xinyu Dong, Assistant Professor, Department of Cinema and Media Studies and the College; affiliated faculty at the Center for East Asian Studies.

On June 18, 1954, Charlie Chaplin was invited to a private screening in Corsier-sur-Vevey, Switzerland, arranged specifically for him by the Chinese premier Zhou Enlai; the film was Butterfly Lovers. Allegedly called the “Chinese Romeo and Juliet” by Premier Zhou, Butterfly Lovers is a Yue Opera film adaptation of a popular Chinese folktale. Unhappy with her confinement in the inner chambers, Zhu Yingtai goes to attend an all-male school in disguise. There she meets Liang Shanbo and the two spend three years as "sworn brothers" and soul mates. But what will happen to the star-crossed lovers when they must part ways? The film was so successful in mainland China, Hong Kong and South East Asia that it inspired an opera musical genre cycle, including the Shaw Brother's famous remake, Love Eterne (1963).

(Sang Hu and Huang Sha, 1954, courtesy of China Film Archive, DCP digital restoration)

Xinyu Dong co-organized, with Judith Zeitlin and Paola Iovene, the Chinese Opera Film conference at the University of Chicago Beijing Center in 2012, and taught a course on Chinese film musicals in Winter 2014.

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.