TRIBUTE TO BUTTERFLY WU

Named the Queen of Cinema in the 1933 in Shanghai
Thursday 6 August 2009

Born from a noble family, Hu Die was beautiful, distinguished, kind and sensitive girl. She loves literature and has a real talent as a calligrapher, but she does not speak good Shanghainese.

She graduates from college earlier than expected, and in 1924 she was accepted to an art school. A recent graduate at the age of 18, she got to play the lead role in a film produced by the studio Youlian. Then hired by the company Tianyi, she plays one role after another in almost twenty films, before signing a contract with the Mingxing studio in 1928. She became the undisputed star of the studio where for ten years she was the favorite actress of Zhang Shichuan. After The White Pagoda Clouds (1928) where she shares the popularity with Ruan Lingyu, the other big star of Chinese cinema, Zhang Shichuan asks HU to play Die in Fire at the Red Lotus Monastery. Hu Die has an amazing ability to adapt and change. She plays equally well in sentimental melodramas and in a martial arts film where she plays the Lady in Red, a heroine who is able to walk on the roof and move with the speed of wind!

When Zhang Shichuan gets interested in sound films, Hu Die, due to her knowledge of Mandarin Chinese, has no trouble adapting to the new medium. In 1931, she gets the role of the singer in the film called, The Red Peony (1931), written by Hong Shen and directed by Zhang Shichuan. This is the first sound Chinese film. It was co-produced with Pathe Shanghai. Although the timing of this three-hour movie is far from perfect, the audience was very impressed to hear Hu Die not only speak but also sing Peking opera. The success is immense.

In 1932, Zhang returns to Shichuan sentimental melodrama with a silent film: Predestined Love, an adaptation of a bestseller, in which HU
Die brilliantly plays a double role. She becomes the most popular and loved by the public actress of China and in 1933 she is elected to be the “the Queen of cinema” in a competition organized by a Shanghai newspaper.

Following the occupation of Manchuria by the Japanese (18 / 9 / 1931), Mingxing feels the need to develop films better suited to these times. They use
Communists, very active in the League, and Communist patriotic writers. They then enter the studio and thus Hu Die is now acting in two films written by Xia Yan Torrent The Wild (1933) directed by Cheng Bugao, and THE MARCH OF TENDERNESS directed by Zhang Shichuan.

In the same year when the THE TWIN SISTERS come out, written and directed by Zheng Zhengqiu, the public was both surprised and delighted to see Hu Die play the roles of two very different twin sisters, separated at birth and who one day will be found sitting together at one table, thanks to mysterious tricks which will amaze the audience.

During the period of an "Orphan Island" (1937-41) Hu Die stars in several films for the company called Xinhua in Shanghai and Hong Kong. In particular, in 1938, Wu Yonggang gave her the leading role in article 104, sound remake of The Divine, a beautiful silent film that was made four years earlier with Ruan Lingyu. In the tribute to his first opera, whose plot is faithfully reproduced in the version in Mandarin Chinese, as in the version in Cantonese, Wu restores the roles of pimp and the little boy the same actors as before the film is very moving.

At the beginning of the Pacific War, HU Die in Hong Kong but when the Japanese
want to force her to make a propaganda film, she ran and won Chongqing, area
free, after a journey of several weeks, with many vicissitudes.

After the war, Hu Die returns to Hong Kong where she performed two beautiful films for Company Dazhonghua, Dream of Spring, Zhu Shilin (1946) and A great lady, Feiguang (1947). In 1949 she played in a movie Bugao CHENG: The noble souls then left the scene.

Only in 1958, after the death of her husband, she returns to the profession of actress once again to play the leading role in four films produced by Shaw
Brothers : Without family Wancang BU (1959) which reveals the little SIAO Fong-fong (Josephine Siao); the back door, LI Hanxiang (1960), named best film 7th Festival of Asian films in Japan, where Hu Die was also crowned best
actress; The street child, Yue Feng (1960), with the young David Chiang, and finally two generations of women, BU Wancang (1960). Then Hu Die still plays a dozen films (some in Cantonese), the last in 1967.

In 1975, she left Hong Kong and moved with her son to Vancouver where she
died in 1989 at the age of 81, after saying: "The butterfly flies away."


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