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The World of Suzie Wong

This afternoon, after a nice lie-in to recover from last night's cinema trip, I happened to catch the opening credits of The World of Suzie Wong on Channel 5, while channel-hopping. I hopped no further - I was hooked.

I'd heard of the film before, and knew it was a legend amongst Hong Kong movies, while the opening credits wowed me with scenes of the harbour and the Star Ferry that transported me right back to my visit there last Easter.

The film is set in Hong Kong in 1960, and is about an American architect who goes there to try to make it as an artist, and a prostitute, Suzie Wong, who starts posing as his model. They go through all sorts of trials and tribulations, including of course a lot of prejudice from his white friends, but eventually they come through them all, realise that they should be together and decide to marry at the end of the film.

Both characters were dynamic and very three-dimensional, and their interactions together complex and quite heart-rending in places: I found myself crying at the end! It also didn't hurt that the actress playing Suzie Wong, Nancy Kwan, was a visual delight if ever I saw one. But what really made it special for me was the fact that the film-makers had obviously decided to make a point of capturing the sights and sounds of Hong Kong. The ramshackle apartments in the poorer areas of the city were all there; the washing and banners hanging out into the streets; the sampans in Aberdeen harbour; stepped streets climbing steeply up the hill-sides; temples full of incense, hot food stalls and places selling exotic dried produce. And of course also many things which have changed between the 60s and the city I saw last year - the film featured rickshaws and people carrying baskets on poles over their shoulders, for example, which have both all but disappeared, and a sky-line which was virtually unrecognisable due to the myriad sky-scrapers which had sprung up since it was made. And the harbour - I've heard people in Hong Kong say it gets narrower and narrower every year as the shore-line on each side gets extended out into the sea for more building space, and having seen this film I fully believe them. The trip across the water on the Star Ferry which was featured at the beginning of the film seemed to take twice as long as I remember it taking last year, and the far shore looked impossibly distant when they first set off.

But what made watching this film really nice was that my Dad actually happens to be out there right now - lucky devil! I'm not sure quite what he's doing - some kind of Engineering conference I think. But I am jealous to think he's there, anyway, and it was nice to watch the film and think of him walking essentially the same streets (if forty-five years later). I shall look forward to hearing his traveller's tales when he gets back.

Finally, this has reminded me to share one of my favourite photos from my own trip to Hong Kong, which I don't think I've got round to posting in this journal before (apologies if I have):

Image hosted by Photobucket.com
All roads lead to Hung Hom station


( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
Mar. 13th, 2005 01:48 pm (UTC)
Hmm, I'm sorry I missed this. Excellent photo.
Mar. 13th, 2005 02:40 pm (UTC)
I should think it's famous enough to be available in video-shops - not mainstream ones like Blockbuster, but maybe the independent type that try to keep a wider stock. I'd definitely recommend seeing it now that I have. And thanks on the photo.
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )

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