Monday, February 18, 2008

lin dai - the movie star Foochow women adored

My grandmother saw Chiang Shan Mei Ren (Kingdom and the Beauty) 63 times. Each time she went to see the movie she would make a mark in one notebook. But any way, she remembered by telling people each time she went and she just added the number.

But then there was one article which had this story :"When we made 'Eternal Love', I had, in Taiwan, people who came to see the picture 100 times. So I gave instructions to the manager, 'Over 100 times! Let him come in and see. Don't take money from him!"
- Sir Run Run Shaw, Signature, March 1990.

But my grandmother did not live to read this story as she passed away in 1986.

A few Shaw actresses had the star power to become legends in their own time but to us in Sibu, none was as great as Lin Dai (1953-1967)who won numerous awards including Best Actress for Li Han Hsiang's 'Kingdom and the Beauty'(1958), Doe Chings Les Belles(1960) and Love Without End (1961) in the Asian Film Festivals. Her critically acclaimed roles also included her lead in 'The Lotus Lamp (1963) and 'Last Woman of Shang'. Her career, which started in 1953, spanned an incredible 50 films ranging from costume epics to comedies to love stories and musicals.

But on 17 July 1964, due to personal distress, Lin Dai committed suicide at home with an overdose of sleeping pills. She died just five months before her 30th birthday. Her tragic death left Chinese communities around the world shocked with grief. In 1966, Lin Dai's unfinished last film, 'The Blue and the Black', was voted Best Picture of the Year at the 13th Asian Film Festival and she was given a posthumous lifetime achievement award.

How did we love her?

First of all, every movie magazine that carried her story would be snapped up in Sibu. Even though there were few magazines available, the movie fans were able to read enough about her.

Secondly, most of her movies were played to full house in Sibu cinemas. That really showed how popular she was.

Thirdly at the end of the year, all shops would give out their free shop calendars with movie stars printed on the hard cardboard. And all of us would rush to snap them up. In one year, my grandmother hanged more than 10 movie star calendars in her living room. A few of them were Lin Dai. She would tear out each day from the calendar faithfully to mark the passing of each day. such was her enthusiasm for the passing of each day and for awaiting the arrival of the Lunar New Year.

Fourthly, every now and then the local newspapers would carry great news about the movie stars and the local village shop would be the centre point for discussion of what each would know about the stars. And sometimes hot argument could break out because they disagreed about the news their bore. But the conversation was always good for anything and for everybody I reckon.

And finally, whenever we sat in a Chinese motor launch we would always greet each other with, "Are you going to the cinema?" We would just get so excited with anticipation.

Life seemed so much better when we could escape into the celluloid world in those days.

Today I miss queuing up to get tickets at the cinema for my grandmother, like any filial granddaughter would do.

Well, Lin Dai after all these years still seem to be so beautiful with her big bright eyes and bright smile. I may just go and watch The Kingdom and the Beauty one more time and sing along the Huang Mei Tiau, "Acting like an Emperor"

1 memories:

Unknown said...

Can buy the DVD.


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