Thursday, March 3, 2011

Colourful Youth at the Hong Kong Cultural Centre

Just a small portion of the audience there at
the Hong Kong Cultural Centre this past Monday
to take in a screening of a restored 1966 film

Some of the film's stars (from left to right --
Nancy Sit Kar Yan, Connie Chan Po Chu and
Woo Fung (aka Wu Fung)) were there to grace the occasion! :)

When I was living in Philadelphia, I used to fantasize about moving to a Movie Mecca where I would not be alone in my Hong Kong movie appreciation. And there's no denying that I certainly have been luckier than many an overseas fan of Hong Kong cinema in having had my dream(s) of moving to Hong Kong and finding people who enjoy watching Hong Kong movies with come true.

Still, it's not all that common for me to get to watch a Hong Kong movie in a 1,734 seater venue like the Hong Kong Cultural Centre's Grand Theatre, never mind watch the movie with over 1,700 rabid fans of -- if not Hong Kong cinema in general, then at least one of its stars. Yet, that was precisely the case this past Monday evening, when the Film Programmes Office held a special screening there of a restored version of a 1966 musical drama starring Connie Chan Po Chu and Josephine Siao Fong Fong.

As many a neutral viewer is sure to observe, Colourful Youth is no film classic -- what with it being a film that appears to have been shot on quite a tight budget (hence its truly artificial looking outdoor as well as indoor sets whose surfaces emit the kind of noises when stepped on that make clear that they're wooden in nature even when "dressed" up to be tarred roads and such) and being in possession of many a scene where people over-act and a number of others where onlookers can be seen visibly gawking at that era's teen idols in the background.

But as the reactions of many of those attending this past Monday's screening of this movie which largely revolves around a group of college students headed by Josephine Siao Fong Fong's classy character, Connie Chan Po Chu's earnest one and Woo Fung's fun-loving character showed, it does deserve to be described as a restored treasure. For even while pretty much the entire audience could not help but laugh hysterically at the music-filled drama's one death scene, it was with a genuine joy de vivre of the kind that was full of love as well as infectiously shared.

Come to think of it, considering that its story included such melodramatic components as a loving mother forced to be a mistress in order to ensure the financial well-being of her unknowing child, a pair of female college students led astray by professional students out to milk money from them and another female college student who has strained relations with her step-mother, Colourful Youth has a pretty large amount of laughter and comic moments as well as songs and dances.

On a personal note: I got close to hysterical upon hearing Josephine Siao Fong Fong sing an ode to a grandmother to the tune of The Wizard of Oz's Somewhere Over the Rainbow; and found it quite the fun experience to hear the audience members seated around me bursting into song to join Connie Chan Po Chu as she sang a catchy solo midway in the movie! And lest it not yet be realized: I found the experience of viewing this Yu Ho-helmed Hong Kong cinematic adaptation of Taiwanese writer Chu Hak's novel to be a really amazing and wonderful one -- in large part because of the people I watched the film with rather than because of the movie per se.

All in all, the distinct impression I got was that many of the individuals in the audience at the Hong Kong Cultural Centre's Grand Theatre this past Monday had first viewed the film in 1966, back when it was first released in theatres, and had been colorful youth themselves -- who thus easily identified with the movie's protagonists -- back then. Some 45 years on, however, they now were older than the parents of the offering's teenaged main characters -- and consequently could appreciate the movie's actually pretty conservative messages to do such as study hard, aspire to do good for the less fortunate, and obey one's elders!

Yet, at the same time, there was no doubt that these now older folks had not lost their sense of fun and appreciation for life in general and this movie in particular. Consequently, they truly were a close to perfect audience for this movie (in 2011 as well as 1966) -- and it genuinely felt like a major privilege to be able to view the movie alongside them.

My rating for the film by itself: 6. My rating for the experience of viewing the film where and when I did: 9.5!


A hero never dies said...

I don't know the film, but I have seen a film in that theatre and it was a fantastic experience.

Joyce Lau said...

I'm glad you had such a nice time.

sbk said...

Sounds like you had a delightful evening. Isn't this just the type of event you moved to Hong Kong for???

YTSL said...

Hi "A hero never dies" --

I've viewed quite a few films at that venue (usually as part of the HK International Film Festival) but have to say that this was the best experience yet in terms of crowd reactions. :)

Hi Joyce --

Thanks! :)

Hi sbk --

Yes, indeedy re this being the type of event I moved to Hong Kong for. And I'm glad to state that even while not as frequent as I'd like them to be, there's enough of them to satisfy me. :)

Liz said...

Sounds like a great time.

Have a fabulous weekend!

Self Portrait.

Anonymous said...

Sounds like fun! Especially with all the Connie Chan fans bursting into song.

I don't think I need to say how much I wish I was there... oops, guess I said it. ;p

YTSL said...

Hi Liz --

It really was indeed a great time. So, ya, you read me right there! :)

Hi duriandave --

Definitely thought of you at the event and in writing this blog entry. Oh, and FYI, was told that the film is missing 10 minutes... but I actually don't think it suffered too greatly from that being the case! :)