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Song at Midnight (1935)

Ye ban ge sheng (original title)
Not Rated | | Horror, Romance | 1937 (China)
China's first horror film, this is loosely based on The Phantom of the Opera. A disfigured musical genius roams a traditional Chinese opera house, punishing those who offend him.

Director:

Weibang Ma-Xu

Writers:

Gaston Leroux (play), Weibang Ma-Xu
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Cast

Credited cast:
Menghe Gu Menghe Gu ... Tangjun
Ping Hu Ping Hu ... Li Xiaoxia
Shan Jin Shan Jin ... Song Danping
Chao Shi Chao Shi ... Sun Xiaoou
Manli Xiu Manli Xiu ... Ludie
Wenzhu Zhou Wenzhu Zhou ... Ruao
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Storyline

China's first horror film, this is loosely based on The Phantom of the Opera. A disfigured musical genius roams a traditional Chinese opera house, punishing those who offend him.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Horror | Romance

Certificate:

Not Rated
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Included among the "1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die", edited by Steven Schneider. See more »

Quotes

Sun: The fish can also make a wave.
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Connections

Followed by Ye ban ge sheng xu ji (1941) See more »

Soundtracks

Night on Bald Mountain
Written by Modest Mussorgsky
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User Reviews

Enjoyable Chinese contribution to thirties monster movies.
1 September 2005 | by MozjoukineSee all my reviews

It would be nice to see Weibang Ma-Xu's other films. He was a busy director logging up credits till the sixties. This is his film which got most attention, though Chinese intellectuals were apparently dismissive of it. Now that the circulation of mainland DVDs has made the pre-WW2 Shanghai films accessible, SONG AT MIDNIGHT turns up in a battered but watchable copy and is unusually intriguing.

Even without sub-titles, the story can be followed. Viewers are helped by familiarity with the "Phantom of the Opera" origins and Ronny Yu's accomplished re-make which drew on another half century of technique and a bigger budget. You can also see the influence of the Lugosi Dracula here but this is a much better film.

The plot has a traveling operetta company arrive at the run down provincial theatre. Their juvenile is having problems but he is coached to triumph by a mysterious hooded figure, who a flash back reveals is a star disfigured by the local power cartel, when he romanced the daughter of an influential family. The young performer sings under the window of the phantom's old love now deranged, who takes him for her former lover. When his old nemesis menaces the ingénue of the company, the Phantom attacks him and is burned in a tower building by an angry mob. This is not a film that coasts on subtlety.

The film making, while not polished, gets by and is full of imaginative touches and striking images. The actor playing the phantom was thought of as one of the country's best at the time and it is interesting to see his work here.

This is certainly more entertaining than much of the more purposeful work that makes it into critical histories. Anyone with a serious interest in film should seek it out.


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Details

Country:

China

Language:

Mandarin

Release Date:

1937 (China) See more »

Also Known As:

Yeban geshang See more »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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