Love discovered and lost is but one of the themes of this lavish Shaw Brothers' rendition of an old Chinese tale.
Western audiences might find it confusing to find that the male romantic lead, Jia Baoyu, is played by a female-- but this is merely to show an excessive of sensitivity and tenderness, as well as a childlike innocence. And, while it might take a little getting used to, Brigitte Lin does a successful job in pulling it off.
The movie plays like an opera. And, indeed, it does share a number of the characteristics of both Western and Chinese opera-- again with great success, but the plot moves along through both dialogue and song. The depths of the emotions chartered here are quite dramatic, and maybe a touch melodramatic, but that is a good representation of human nature, particularly in matters of the heart. There is an invariable drama to love which supersedes all reason. The primary plot of the slow realization of a first, true love is nicely set off by the secondary plot of jealousy and deceit among the family and its servants. It might almost seem heavy-handed, but a strong cast, boasting strong performances cares it off flawlessly.
Newly remastered in lavish colors, this film is a true treasure in every sense of the word. Clearly, one of the Shaw Brothers' best.
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