China through the Lens: National Film Museum
    2011-03-04 18:04:19     CRIENGLISH.com      Web Editor: Duan Xuelian
Chinese films are more than just kungfu and period dramas, and before Jackie Chan, Andy Lau and Ge You, there were scores of other stars that brought memorable stories alive on screen.

There are about 4,300 photos on display in the China National Film Museum's exhibition halls, illustrating Chinese film and its history. [Photo:CRIENGLISH.com]

One exhibition hall features life-size recreations of iconic Chinese film characters. [Photo:CRIENGLISH.com]

By Angela Pruszenski

Chinese films are more than just kungfu and period dramas, and before Jackie Chan, Andy Lau and Ge You, there were scores of other stars that brought memorable stories alive on screen.

The 38,000 square meter China National Film Museum pays tribute to China's long and colorful movie-making history and reveals some secrets of film production.

The world's love affair with films began in 1895 when the Brothers Lumiere debuted their 50 second motion picture showing a busy French train station at the Grand Cafe in Paris. Audiences around the world were enthralled with the new form of entertainment, and the industry exploded. China first experimented with movie-making in 1905 with the production of a 3 minute Peking Opera short, "Ding Jun Shan," or "Conquering Jun Mountain."

Half of the museum's 20 exhibition halls are dedicated to illustrating the history of Chinese film, with a special hall dedicated to the film industries of Macao, Taiwan, and Hong Kong. Much of the story is illustrated using old pictures of movie stars and film scenes, with about 4,300 stills in the entire museum.

Other displays include life-sized figures of actors or scenes, including a re-enactment of the first film screening and China's first movie production. One of the more unique items is director and Chinese cinema pioneer Zheng Zhengqiu's old desk, which may remind visitors of the desks for very early Hollywood writers. "The exhibition about Chinese film history is very popular, especially among seniors because they grew up watching old Chinese films. Currently, only our museum has information of these old films," Gu Liang, an interpreter and tour guide at the museum explained.

The other half of the exhibition halls delve into the behind-the-scenes tricks of film production. And entire set created to look like the Chinese countryside is on display, and production equipment visually creates different times of day, along with rain and snow. Visitors can watch all these changes take place from a balcony. Other models show various early cinema camera tricks, such as reverse-action shots and using graphics on a piece of glass to simulate difficult to build sets.

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