The Legacy: New Life for Old "Red Mansions"
   2013-11-27 20:59:24      Web Editor: Fu Yu

Rongguo Houses in Zhengding County in north China's Hebei province is known as the place where the TV adaptation of the Chinese classic novel "A Dream in Red Mansions" was filmed in 1986. The houses are still in use today, serving as a major tourist attraction and screen production studio. [Photo: Jing]

Rongguo Houses in Zhengding County in north China's Hebei province was used as the setting of the TV adaptation of the Classic Chinese novel "A Dream in Red Mansions", an instant hit back in 1987. More than 25 years on, the Rongguo Houses continue to thrive with their cultural legacies.

CRI's Alexander Aucott has more.


Built in 1984 and put into use in 1986, the Rongguo Houses is where the cast and crew of "A Dream in Red Mansions" spent more than two months filming the 36-episode TV series. It covers a land area of 370,000 square meters and consists of 212 houses. Other than being a major tourist attraction, they now also serve as a studio for screen productions. More than 200 films and TV series have been filmed and produced here.

Gao Liping is a tour guide at the Rongguo Houses. She says that sometimes alterations need to be made to serve different filming purposes.

"The color of the paint on the doors and windows has been changed according to the needs of the production team currently working here. The wallpapers in the houses have been changed too. We don't allow any destructive activities. And they have to restore the scenes to their original state after use."

Following the "A Dream in Red Mansions" craze, the Rongguo Houses now receives around 150,000 tourists annually and requires daily maintenance at all levels.

Li Yancai is a member of staff who has been working here since 1990.

"I mainly do maintenance work here. I keep an eye out for the environment in and around the houses, as well as safe-keeping. The first thing I do at work every day is tidy up."

In addition to fulfilling its role as a film studio, the Rongguo Houses is now facing another challenge, which is to balance its needs to maintain its tourist appeal and generate income.

A visitor who only wishes to be identified by her surname Xue has an opinion.

"It's great that 'A Dream in Red Mansions' was filmed here. These houses provide a boost to the economy of Zhengding County as they attract so many visitors. However, as much as I like the layout, I think the houses are a bit fake compared with what they look like on TV. They are far from what I had in mind. It is probably because there are commercial purposes involved, or because of management issues."

Despite the alterations, Rongguo Houses remains popular among visitors. Their reputation has gone beyond China to South Korea, with tourist groups taking direct flights to have a look at these "red mansions".

For CRI, I'm Alexander Aucott.

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