Two Stage Sisters

Two Stage Sisters Movie Poster

Two Stage Sisters by director (Xie Jin) was released in 1964, just at the outbreak of the Cultural Revolution, and was banned for its bourgeois content, namely the world of stage performances, the friendship of two actresses, and characters in the plot who were gangsters.

The two sisters of the title were two women who became friends when one joins a group of itinerant players and meets the other, who is the daughter of the manager of the group. The two women go to Shanghai looking for work when the group dissolves due to the death of the manager.

It is 1941, and the Japanese occupy the city, though that seems not to have changed Shanghai's seedy nature (commemorated in the American phrase I was Shanghai-ed). This was the perfect setting to show how one of the women could fall into the lowlife, gangster world, while the other looks up to the heavens and revolutionary awareness dawns.

By 1944, their relationship has deteriorated so much that the two end up in court as the corrupted, Western-style sister has attacked the other.

The expected justice prevails and the next scenes are of revolutionary China in 1950. One of the sisters searches out the other in a distant province, and the ending is such unadulterated propaganda that it is shocking to find out that most of the people involved with the film were punished.

Movie-making in general stopped in 1964 as the Cultural Revolution began its 10 years of destruction.

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