Murder in the Oratory, directed by Fei Mu, was released August 13, 1937, on the eve of the Battle of Shanghai, the first of twenty-two major engagements during the Second Sino-Japanese War. Drawing from Beijing opera entitled Wu Han Killing His Wife—made famous by the Hui School—Fei Mu deftly merges the operatic and the filmic, crossing the stylized flair and song of Beijing opera with the expressive camera possibilities of film.
Zhou Xinfang, who played the leading role of General Wu Han, adopted the Shaoxing opera Tong Pass-style to create a work rich in theatricality that emphasized both singing and acting. Zhou said at the time, “Shooting a film is even more difficult than theater to get everything just right. Because on the stage you can get your lines out in a single breath, and the actors have a sense of their own presence. But on screen, a play is composed of countless shots. You cannot finish your lines within a single go, and some must be split into several days of filming. You cannot film [in an order] determined by the script. You often film scenes in reverse, so it is often difficult for the actors to become engrossed within the scene, and sometimes they can’t even remove their makeup as they wait for the director’s schedule.”
On its release, Murder in the Oratory was sold out for thirty-one days straight with a total of ninety-three screenings. Many renowned figures sang its praises; Mei Lanfang described it as “Innovative in its observation of the past,” and Tian Han commented, “The silver screen brings new life to the old stage.”
Ticketing & Participation
RMB 20 / Adult；
RMB 10 / UCCA Members
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* Please No late entry.