Beijing, 1902: an enterprising young portrait photographer named Liu Jinglun, keen on new technology, befriends a newly-arrived Englishman who's brought projector, camera, and Lumière-brothers' shorts to open the Shadow Magic theater. Liu's work with Wallace brings him conflict with tradition and his father's authority, complicated by his falling in love with Ling, daughter of Lord Tan, star of Beijing's traditional opera. Liu sees movies as his chance to become wealthy and worthy of Ling. When the Shadow Magic pair are invited to show the films to the Empress Dowager, things look good. But, is disaster in the script? And, can movies preserve tradition even as they bring change? Written by
Beautifully filmed tale of the early film industry in China.
Ann Hus first directorial and writing effort is an ambitious project that belies her 2 month apprenticeship at the film school at New York University. `Shadow Magic' is a fictitious tale built around the introduction of the infant film industry in China of the very early 20th century. Raymond Wallace (Jared Harris) comes to Beijing to introduce the simplest of motion pictures to its natives. Liu (Yu Xia) portrays a youthful Chinese apprentice photographer who helps him encourage the locals to attend the show he calls `Shadow Magic'. The clashes of cultures form the backbone of the conflict. Filmed beautifully on location, acting, cinematography and music coalesce magically to draw today's audiences into its story, just as its characters are instantly charmed by the movies they come to see in filmdom's first theaters. This is a movie not to be missed by anyone who loves film.
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