Director Hu Mei blends 230 year old history with creative interesting sets, environment and modern film making as she brings today’s audience into the time of the beginning of Peking Opera. The Opera blends singing, acting and martial arts into a form of entertainment which has a significant place in Chinese culture.
The story takes place during the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911). It revolves around two performers during the time of the 80th birthday of Emperor Qianlong, who work to increase the prestige and popularity of the Opera. The art style is not as popular today as in the past, young folks as usual look forward to a changing world of entertainment. But Hu Mei has hope this production will create greater interest in the art form through out the World.
The production took place over a period of six years shot on location in Anhui providence in China.
The human factors in the film revolve around the relationship between Dalong Fu and Yili Ma who appear to have a Romeo and Juliet relationship as the story begins. But the main theme is an Opera group from a small village is determined to reach the Forbidden City and have the opportunity to perform before the Emperor. Sounds like a Mickey Rooney – Judy Garland film Babes on Broadway.
The commitment of 15 million dollars to the film shows beautifully in the theatre setting where the male audiences cheer the dancing, dress and Marshall arts which are performed effectively by Dalong Fu as Yue Jiu. The beauty of the city, its ancient architecture and the country side are stunningly presented giving a sense of existing at the time in a pure atmosphere filled with beauty.
Paper lanterns, a bamboo forest and snow along with 200 hand tailored costumes add to the texture that fills the screen. Even a funeral in white is filled with beauty.
Enter The Forbidden City is a film with beauty, romance and hope and will fill the big screen with wonder even as it appears a bit limited on the small screen.