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Hong Kong film director’s TV drama revisits Shanghai’s economic opening-up

Directed by renowned Hong Kong film director Wong Kar-wai, the TV drama “Blossoms Shanghai”(《繁花》) was released in the Mainland and Hong Kong to achieve great success and critical acclaim. Adapted from the eponymous novel (originally titled “Blossoms”) by renowned writer Jin Yucheng(金宇澄), the drama is set in 1990s Shanghai.

TV drama Blossoms Shanghai features actor Hu Ge and actress Xin Zhilei.

In 1990, Shanghai witnessed great and far-reaching significance for the overall promotion of reform and opening up. The Central Government announced in April to speed up the development of the Pudong New Area(浦東新區), and the official opening of the Shanghai Stock Exchange on December 19.

Hong Kong’s film director Wong Kar-wai,

The story revolves around main character A Bao, played by Hu Ge(胡歌), who rises to the top of the business world by speculating in stocks and foreign trade, with the courage to dare to take risks in Shanghai, a city full of opportunity in the wave of reform and opening up, soon becomes “Mr Bao”, who is respected by everyone on Huanghe Road.

Shanghai Stock Exchange.

“Blossoms Shanghai” is the first TV drama directed by Wong Kar-wai(王家衛). The drama started production in 2019. Prior to filming, Wong placed an advertisement in a local newspaper to collect objects from Shanghai in the 1990s to create a sense of authenticity in the city and ensure that the drama would be a true and vivid portrayal of the era. In terms of casting, Wong set a high standard by choosing actors who were fluent in Shanghainese. Lead actors Hu Ge, Tang Yan(唐嫣) and Ma Yili(馬伊琍), all born in Shanghai, have used Shanghainese for dialogue during filming and dubbed the dialogue into Mandarin after filming.

Promotional poster of TV drama Blossoms Shanghai.

Wong has once again demonstrated his unique taste in choosing the music for “Blossoms Shanghai”, creating a feast for the eyes and ears. For the soundtrack, he invited Frankie Chan(陳勛奇), who scored acclaim in Ashes of Time(《東邪西毒》), Chungking Express(《重慶森林》) and Fallen Angels(《墮落天使》), to collaborate with him. In addition, a total of 57 golden tunes, including many classics from the 1990s, are used throughout the show, each adding a unique atmosphere to a particular character or scene. Among these songs, many are familiar to Hong Kong people, such as Faye Wong(王菲), Jacky Cheung(張學友), Beyond and The Grasshopper(草蜢), which are integrated into the plots of the drama and become the exclusive soundtracks for certain scenes or characters. With his unique musical sense, Wong has succeeded in perfectly presenting the atmosphere and emotion of the drama through music, adding more artistic elements to “Blossoms Shanghai”.

Blossoms Shanghai tells the transformation of character Mr. Bao, thanks to guidance of Uncle Ye, who is played by You Benchang (left).

Interestingly, the popularity of “Blossoms Shanghai” has not only attracted attention in the theatre and cultural fields, but also boosted the share prices of some “Blossoms Shanghai concept stocks”. According to China Business Network, one of the garment companies featured in the drama was based on Shanghai Fashion Co. Although the company has disappeared, its stock code 600825 has changed hands several times and is now owned by Xinhua Media, a listed company under the Shanghai Newspaper Group. On the eve of the flourishing finale on January 9 this year, the stock hit its limit-up.

Image at the top is from Blossoms Shanghai.

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