TUESDAY 24th JUNE 2014
7pm for 7.15pm
Tavern at the Radisson Xingguo Hotel
Chinese Lawyers on the Silver Screen: Lawyer Yin and Lawyer Yang
Despite the relative newness of their profession, lawyers make a surprising number of appearances in early Chinese films, where they act in both criminal and civil cases. In some movies we see easy access to lawyers, but in others, a lawyer's help is clearly out of reach for most. Chinese filmmakers also used courtroom scenes to great dramatic effect, whether as a stage for an upright lawyer or as an intimidating setting for ordinary people lacking power or connections.
This presentation will analyze the depiction of lawyers and legal issues in two important movies from the late 1940s, which some film experts view as a "second golden age" of Chinese film. Both movies were produced by the privately-owned Wenhua Film Company (1946-1952), which was known for its "humanistic" movies and its creative directors, writers and actors. Long Live the Missus (Taitai Wansui太太万岁1947) was directed by Sang Hu and was written by Eileen Chang; it is one of two films they did together in Shanghai. Bright Day (Yanyangtian艳阳天 1948), which starred the great Shi Hui, was written and directed by Cao Yu, China's most famous modern playwright, and it is the only screenplay he wrote. The two movies are very different in character, plot and tone, but both movies involve important legal issues--and both of their lawyers are good.
These movies are very much the product of their time and place, and they address the system of an earlier age. But their broader legal themes--access to justice and the role of lawyers in the legal system--remain of great importance now. What lessons might these classic movies offer as we consider the role of bench and bar in China today?
About The Speaker
Alison Conner is a professor of law at the University of Hawai`i, where she teaches courses on Chinese and comparative law; she has a PhD in Chinese history as well as a law degree. Before moving to Hawaii, she taught law in China, Singapore and Hong Kong for twelve years, and in 2004 she returned to teach law as a Fulbright in Beijing. Her recent articles focus on the Chinese legal profession and on depictions of the legal system in Chinese movies, including "Don't Change Your Husband: Divorce in Early Chinese Movies," "Images of Justice and Injustice: Trials in the Movies of Xie Jin," and "The Lawyer Who Haunts Us: Yin Zhaoshi and the Bright Day."
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