They're in a different language, about a different culture, and they're filmed on the other side of the world. Why the Chinese black and white movies attract foreigners?
Outside, wind just started to moan.
Inside, it was common to hear people laughing around here. This was their film salon!
The classic Chinese movie The Winter of Sanmao flashed on the screen. Nearly two dozen people were sitting side by side the salon watching at the thin, starved street orphan in the movie.
“Sanmao first appeared back in 1935. He was a response to Donald Duck and Mickey Mouse, who were the popular stars of the Chinese papers. He was created by a young art student called Zhang Leping, and quickly became a national icon.” Andy Deemer, Managing Editor of The World of Chinese magzine, gave the audience a well-prepared speech before the show time in order for better understanding on the film. The course of the speech was full of satirical humor and surging passion.
The exciting moment began. The story began when Sanmao arrived in Shanghai, a city ravaged by war and overrun with hungry, poor orphans. It was a desolate picture, seen through the eyes of a naive young boy, just trying to keep himself clothed and fed.
The film was dark but has moments of humor. From time to time the audience burst into cheer, and laughter was waged. At the time Saomao took a successful revenge against a bad guy, a viewer shouted "Yeah!" to cheer the poor boy on.
There was a short conversation in Sanmao. It wasn't hard to follow and didn't require much information of Chinese background. Therefore the movie also had a practical function: learning Chinese. Language courses can be dry and boring as they offer little practical knowledge about Chinese usage.
Even if they're not interested in learning Chinese, many people from oversea are still curious about Chinese history. "You know, besides Zhang Yimou, and Jackie Chen, there are everything else they might want to know, and they need to know, it's something about Chinese culture.” Andy explained.
The movie ends up with a Communist parade through the streets. "Did you hear, Sanmao?" One homeless boy shouts. "We're free!" Sanmao runs excitedly to the parading forces and joins in. The dark times have ended, warm applause followed at the salon.
Whether it's because of the attractive comedy, interest in Chinese history, or the desire to have more native-sounding Chinese, it's clear: the admiration for classic movies has overcome cultural barriers.