The film, “Two Stage Sisters” is a 1964 Chinese production by Xie Jin, staring Cao Yindi and Xie Fang (Connolly). It is a production made shortly before Chinese Cultural Revolution. “Two Stage Sisters” tell of feminine story, “Yue Opera” practitioners, who happened to be from the same cast, but who end up playing very different trajectories in their lives.
As Two stage sisters: The blossoming of a revolutionary aesthetic by Gina Marchetti observes, the “Two Stage Sisters” actually highlights the lifeline of Chinese society’s rebirth that runs from 1935 to 1950 as a mark of the period that ushered in the beginning of a New China (par. 2).
Contrasting several Chinese films of the time, which were mere adaptations of customary and commonplace dramatic and literary opinion, “Two Stage Sisters” was a unique making whose original screen play continue to parallel a variety of modern-type film collection in China and elsewhere.
Speaking in a most eloquent voice that rivals out almost all the films of the time, the characters in the film makes it generally audible, thus enhancing its themes to resonate with modern day filmmaking. According to Stafford, the central theme in this film is, however, a society’s quest for greater freedom of its members (par. 2).
The “Yellow Earth” is arguably the most thought provoking Chinese Cinema produced much later in the 1980s, and to date, it has continued to be a signature for reference by the Fifth Generation Filmmakers (Schnabel). The film castes its director, Chen Kaige and cinematographer Zhang Yimou as much enabled individuals of the art.
Rarely screened nowadays for its rarity in the stocks, the twenty-fifth anniversary of the film’s release offered a rare opportunity to revisit its documentation and even compare it with the earlier classics of Chinese cinema such as the “Two Stage Sisters” (Stafford par. 3).
Directed by Chen Kaige in collaboration with Wang Xueyin, Bai, Liu Qiang, and Bai Xue, the 1984 production remains an all-time focus for much of the cinematography in continental Asia. Set in an expansive landscape that depicts the grim and the grand loss of the northwestern China, the eighty-nine minute color film presents is a tale of an army art employee in search of countryside folklore adventures (Connolly).
As Park argues, the film also provides the structure for the quasi-ethnographic reflection and cultural-historical orientation that forms the true spirit of the Chinese culture (par. 2).
Mao Zedong, nonetheless, informed a most profound proletarian Cultural Revolution of 1960s. During much of his revolutionary campaigns, filmmaking became the standard by which art and culture measured against reality in the post-World War II China (Two stage sisters: The blossoming of a revolutionary aesthetic by Gina Marchetti par. 4).
His revolutionary conviction brought to the fore the need to project screenplays that informed the society of the time the necessity to shun despondency and secularism. Set against the backdrop of human want, both the “Two Stage Sisters” and the “Yellow Earth” explore the intrinsic of a deeply set Chinese struggle for greater empowerment.
Although rooted in quagmire of Chinese orientation, the two films are an epic scope with the central theme seeking to explore the Chinese women’s lives that seemed to torn by tremendous socio-political and economic upheavals.
In the postmodern China, humanism featured substantially as a new educational program, and not necessarily as a concept of philosophy. These inclinations shaped a course of learning from which the classical Chinese struggles were screen played (Park par. 2).
Inspired no doubt by the radical feminine movement though, both the films have the flavor of Mao Zedong revolutionary ideals whose anticlimax was a total revolution to the Japanese and Guomindang protectorate that heralded a New China (Yellow Earth by Chen Kaige par. 3).
Widely considered as a technical masterpiece of the modern day filmmaking, both the films consist of a thought-provoking edifice that offers a consistent delivery to the humanistic themes inherent thereupon. Coupled with their level standard creativity of the plot excellence in realism, the vivid execution of the thematic impression augurs well with the gist of modern filmmaking.
Two stage sisters: The blossoming of a revolutionary aesthetic by Gina Marchetti observes that the “Two Stage Sisters” vivid production of the women struggling to make a society worth living is a true attestation of feminine spirit that has been the dictum in China and elsewhere (par. 3).
The deafening rumbles of the equivocal Communist Party’s intention to assist the peasants during the Communist revolution are also true themes that continue to shape the Chinese public life today.
In addition, Two stage sisters: The blossoming of a revolutionary aesthetic by Gina Marchetti notes that literary of modern day critics of the Chinese literature have often sought a dichotomy of the technical aspects in the “Two Stage Sisters” and the “Yellow Earth” which they argue have a resemblance to some extent, especially their practicality and the plot (par. 5).
Park, in his criticism, maintains that the plot in both cases is a demonstration of humanity at the mercy of humanity (par. 9). On the surface value of things, both the two films hypothesize that the bare meaning of struggle is for the quest of human freedom.
Most contemporary admirers of the modern day Chinese cinematography acknowledge the potent in the production of these two films although few seem too concerned of the deeper abstract philosophical meaning (Yellow Earth by Chen Kaige par. 3).
As mark of cinematic style in both the films, repetition has played an impeccable role in their production. As a technique, this it helps to lengthen the characters’ voyage into the future, giving the viewer an enhanced geographical orientation of the promise and the despair that characterize the struggle towards freedom.
Whenever characters in these films are talking about their experiences, they kept on repeating their words to bring their point home (Schnabel). The purposeful use of still camera, natural lights, as well as the deft are a great enablement to the orchestration of a serene color pallet that grounds the texture to a harmonious gleam.
The rural topography and the costumes of the yester year Chinese orientation supplement the films as well as the soulful songs and dances that are archetypical of the animated crescendo. All these cinematographic orientation are a show that the two producers and their teams chose to deploy the classical elements of Chinese aesthetic merit, and in so doing, they managed to fill the bill for cinematic modernism.
In essence, these rare product qualities make the two films to stand out even in the midst of modern-type films whose productions are well supplied by digital enablement.
In retrospect, the “Yellow Earth” and “Two Stage Sisters” herald a new period of Fifth Generation, as well as a new trend in contemporary Chinese performing art industry (Schnabel). Markedly, they nonetheless remain elements of reference in modern-day cinematographic pedagogy, especially in considering their plot, artistic cinematic style, as well as character development.
Connolly, James. Stage Sisters (1965), dir. Xie Jin, Part 1. 18 Oct. 2013. Web. 16 July 2014. <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aYfME4FwWTg>.
Park, Mary. New Chinema in China and Taiwan. 25 Sept. 2011. Web. 16 July 2014. <https://ospace.otis.edu/marypark/New_Chinema_in_China_and_Taiwan>.
Schnabel, Annabella. Yellow Earth 1984. 10 June 2013. Web. 16 July 2014. <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sEqfyZGYVrM&noredirect=1>.
Stafford, Roy. Going domestic in East Asia. 30 May 2007. Web. 16 July 2014. <https://itpworld.wordpress.com/2007/05/.>.
Two stage sisters: The blossoming of a revolutionary aesthetic by Gina Marchetti. 2 Sept. 2010. Web. 16 July 2014. <http://www.ejumpcut.org/archive/onlinessays/JC34folder/2stageSisters.html>.
Yellow Earth by Chen Kaige. 27 Apr. 2014. Web. 16 July 2014. <http://hcl.harvard.edu/hfa/films/2009marapr/yellow_earth.html>.