Project Details
Funding Scheme : Early Career Scheme
Project Number : 858913
Project Title(English) : Revolution, Commercialism and Chineseness: The Reception and Appropriation of the Socialist Opera Films in Captialist-Colonial Hong Kong, 1954-1966 
Project Title(Chinese) : 革命、商業主義和中國性:社會主義戲曲電影在資本主義和殖民地香港的接受和挪用 
Principal Investigator(English) : Dr Hui, Kwok Wai 
Principal Investigator(Chinese) : 許國惠 
Department : Department of Literature and Cultural Studies
Institution : The Education University of Hong Kong
E-mail Address : huikw@eduhk.hk 
Tel : 29487561 
Co - Investigator(s) :
Panel : Humanities, Social Sciences
Subject Area : Humanities and Arts
Exercise Year : 2013 / 14
Fund Approved : 382,560
Project Status : Completed
Completion Date : 30-6-2017
Project Objectives :
To study Hong Kong leftist promotion of PRC-made opera films; both written and visual promotional materials will be analyzed
To scrutinize the colonial government’s film censorship policy and its practices in censoring films imported from the PRC
To investigate the co-production of opera films by the Hong Kong leftist and the PRC film studios, as well as the making of opera films by Great Wall Movie Enterprises Limited
To study and compare Hong Kong commercial film studios’ appropriations of PRC-made opera films, including those of Shaw Brothers Studio, Cathay Film Productions Ltd, and local Cantonese film studios
To explore the competition among Great Wall, Shaw Brothers, and Cathay in remaking PRC-made opera films
Abstract as per original application
This project conducts a historical research on the promotion, reception, and appropriation of Communist China-made opera film in capitalist-colonial Hong Kong during the Cold War era. It seeks to contribute to theories of global modernity. The study posits that not only local cultures but also different sociopolitical regimes contribute to “multiple modernities.” The story of socialist opera films in Hong Kong demonstrates that revolutionary modernity and commercial modernity may meet and struggle with each other in appropriating similar historical resources. The People’s Republic of China (PRC) produced 121 Chinese opera films between 1953 and 1966, half of which were exported to Hong Kong. The popularity of the genre led to an opera film fad in the Colony, created by both leftist and commercial film studios. Interestingly, most Hong Kong-made opera films were reproductions of their PRC counterparts. The project traces the circulation of PRC-made opera films in Hong Kong and their reception and appropriation by local filmmakers from 1954 to 1966. It focuses on several questions arising from such extraordinary historical phenomenon: (1) How were those communist cultural products promoted in capitalist-colonial Hong Kong during the Cold War era? (2) How were the PRC-made opera films able to survive the censorship of the colonial government? (3) How did Hong Kong’s leftist and commercial filmmakers receive and appropriate the communist-made opera films? The project sheds light on the modalities of cultural and ideological flow from Communist China to non-communist regions, including Hong Kong, Taiwan, and overseas Chinese communities worldwide. The study contends that the cultural influence of the PRC on Hong Kong was significant during the Cold War era. In addition to exploring the cultural exchange across two ideological blocs, the project also proposes a solution to the problem of reception. Rather than studying the general public, this project examines the reception of a particular audience, namely, Hong Kong filmmakers who watched the PRC-made opera films in the cinema and created their own versions. Untapped archives in Hong Kong, London, Shanghai, and Guangzhou will be consulted; local newspapers and periodicals scrutinized; and interviews with veteran opera performers and film workers conducted to gain a whole picture. By incorporating general analysis with case studies, this project explores in depth Hong Kong’s responses to PRC-made opera films in the 1950s and 1960s and their multiple implications.
Research Outcome
Layman's Summary of
Completion Report: