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Cinema in China prior to WWI

A Case Study of West-Eastern Culture Transfer

Meimei Xu

This book looks at the earliest history of exhibiting firms in China at the turn of the
century. The spread of cinema in China as a continuation of the lantern tradition is
contextualized and conventionalized in the late Qing sociopolitical milieu, featuring
a strong foreign monopoly and regional imbalance. However, the key element for
cinema’s development in China is Chinese audience per se.

“The book has produced something truly remarkable and tremendous.”
                                                                                                     —Frank Bren

“The work offers a lot of new insights into the history of the cinema in China. Though
the film business was brought from abroad to the mainland, the candidate was never
nationalistic in her approach to the phenomenon of foreign entertainment in China.”
                                                                                                     —Wolfgang Kubin

“The author painstakingly combed through a large number of historical newspapers,
especially English-language newspapers published both in and outside China, and
pieced together a convincing picture of the earliest history of Chinese cinema.”
                                                                                                       —Xuelei Huang 

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Appendix II: Filmography


Appendix II:  Filmography

F-I: “Occidental and Oriental Series,” James White and Fredrick Blechyden’s films shot in China (Hong Kong, Guangdong, Macao, Shanghai). Films were released in Jun. 1898. Each title is 50 ft and sold $7.50.

1. Hong Kong Wharf Scene: Coolies unloading Macao steamer. Chinese passengers make their way down the wharf. Two chair bearers are soliciting fares, but without any success.

2. Street Scene in Hong Kong: View in the Chinese quarter of the city, showing the strange business signs, reading up and down. Chair bearers pass by with passengers at a very rapid gait.

3. Government House at Hong Kong: Guests are arriving in chairs at the pillared gates, to attend a garden party in honor of Prince Henri, of Prussia. This was a very fashionable function.

4. Hong Kong Regiment (No. 1): A splendid infantry regiment raised in India, composed of Punjabis, Paithans and Hindoostanis. They march forward and wheel by companies.

5. Hong Kong Regiment (No. 2).

6. Sikh Artillery, Hong Kong.

7. Tourists Starting for Canton: Shows a party of English people in their chairs. This is the only safe way of getting about in Canton, as the streets are indescribably filthy.

8. Landing Wharf at Canton: An immense number of strange shaped river and canal boats are seen. One half the population of Canton lives on the water in these floating houses.

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