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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
A beautiful film about the coming of early silent cinema to China. SHADOW MAGIC deftly combines a love story with the drama of the cultural clash between China's ancient traditions and modern Western culture in the form of film. An amazing first film by Chinese director Ann Hu. If I correctly understood Ms. Hu's comments at the 2000 Sundance festival, this film was produced as an American film with co-funding by the Chinese government, and shot in China. SHADOW MAGIC reminds me of films like IL POSTINO and CINEMA PARADISO - not necessarily in theme or plot, but it has a similar feel.
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