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date: 22 September 2019

Abstract and Keywords

The double-length feature Love and Duty, among the earliest extant films from 1930s Shanghai, dramatized some of modern China’s most controversial social issues, including the “woman question,” the “marriage question,” and the “suicide question,” together with the changing role of the individual and family. Spotlighting Ruan Lingyu, cast in two roles as a mother and her daughter, this ambitious 1931 production from Lianhua Studios was thought lost during wartime through the 1990s and long relegated to the margins of film history. This chapter offers an in-depth study of this important silent film melodrama, detailing its cosmopolitan origins in a popular novel by Madame Hua Luo Chen (S. Horose), exploring the adaptation process undertaken by Luo Mingyou, Li Minwei, Zhu Shilin, and Bu Wancang, and analyzing the film’s stylistic qualities, thematic concerns, and influential legacy, with special attention to the performances by Ruan Lingyu and Jin Yan, who would become leading stars of the decade.

Keywords: Love and Duty (Lian’ai yu yiwu), Ruan Lingyu, stars, Hua Luo Chen / S. Horose, Lianhua, Luo Mingyou, Zhu Shilin, Jin Yan, women, melodrama

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