The Big Road
Significant for its progressive ideals, bold frankness, and striking musical interludes, this classic of Chinese silent cinema dives into life among a team of rough-and-ready itinerant highway builders. With a live score performed by Donald Sosin.
Tuesday, May 31, 2016
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This 1935 classic of Chinese silent cinema dives into the lives of several construction workers as they busy themselves building a highway for the Chinese army. Unable to find consistent work in the city of Shanghai, a group of workers travel the country doing road construction. Each worker—played by all of China's biggest stars at the time and led by the good-looking and ever-popular actor Jin Yan—has his own unique personality and gritty past. They get through their days by forming genuine friendships with each other, even breaking out into song as they work, and later going out to a local restaurant and flirting with the waitresses. The Big Road was a production meant not only to celebrate male heroic strength and vigor, but also to lift the country's patriotic spirit and promote China's perseverance in the face of a nameless enemy (the Japanese). The film's progressive nature is exemplified by its reversal of gender angles (viewing men skinny-dipping and constantly bare-chested through the eyes of the narrative's only two female characters), its musical interludes and sound design inserted in post-production, and its particularly tragic, tear-jerking, and seriously haunting finale. This screening of The Big Road is accompanied with a live score performed by Donald Sosin.
Throughout the 1930s, Sun Yu (1900–1990) was a prolific director of Chinese cinema. He was employed by Lianhua Film Company and collaborated with them to create some of his most significant works, such as Wild Rose, Loving Blood of the Volcano, Daybreak, and Little Toys. In 2004, the Hong Kong Film Awards named his film The Big Road the 30th greatest Chinese film ever made.
Sponsored by China Stars, WASA North America Group, Hainan Airlines
- Director: Sun Yu
- Principal Cast: Chen Yanyan, Zheng Junli, Li Lili, Liu Qiong, Jin Yan
- Country: China
- Year: 1935
- Running Time: 104 minutes
- Producer: Lu Hang-zhang
- Screenplay: Sun Yu
- Cinematographers: Hong Weilie
- Filmography: The Legend of Lu Ban (1958); Brave the Wind and Waves (1957); Song Jingshi (1955); The Life of Wu Xun (1950); Spring Arrives Everywhere (1937); Madman's Rhapsody (1937); Back to Nature (1936); Queen of Sports (1934); Little Toys (1933); Daybreak (1933); Loving Blood of the Volcano (1932); Facing the National Crisis (1932); Wild Rose (1932); Wild Flowers (1930); Spring Dream of an Old Capital (1930); A Romantic Swordsman (1928)
- Language: Mandarin
- Format: DCP
- International Sales: China Film Archive