25.12.2011 15.01.2012The Tramp in Hong Kong: Re-imaginations of Chaplin’s Charlie

Posted: December 16, 2011 by kennyming in December 2011, January 2012
Tags: , ,

Ticketing Agent: URBTIX

Venue: Hong Kong Film Archive (Cinema) Date/Time: 25/12/2011 (Sun) ─ 15/1/2012 (Sun)

Charles Chaplin’s iconic costumes have been identically rendered by actors such as Yee Chau-shui, Fung Fung, Sun Ma Si-tsang, Cheng Kwun-min and Dean Shek. Unlike Chaplin’s character in silent movies, most of the Hong Kong tramps are good singers capable of generating laughter. The Hong Kong Film Archive will screen five films featuring the bumbling character Charlie. They are “Flower Girl”, “Great Chums”, “Two Tools Catch the Murderer”, “Let’s be Happy Tonight” and “Laughing Time”.

Charles Chaplin was a major influence on Hong Kong comedies. The Tramp, the bumbling character in most of his films, was so endearing to audiences that imitators would appear on our screens over and over again throughout the years.

The films would feature a character named Charlie, complete with almost identical renditions of Chaplin’s iconic costume – baggy pants, tight jacket, huge shoes, walking stick and a ragtag moustache on his face. Like the Tramp, he is a kind heart surviving tough times with humor and dignity, though, if necessary, he won’t shy from using tricks to ensure survival. Hong Kong audiences, with vivid memories or real-life experiences of difficult times, readily identified with him.

Yee Chau-shui’s Song Girl White Peony (1939) was likely the first of many films featuring the Hong Kong Charlie. It was so successful that the Tramp would be reincarnated many times, several of them featuring Yee, such as The Great Dictator (1950), the surviving print of which was in great need of restoration. The character continued to appear in the 1960s and as recent as 1980s, when Hong Kong was well into our fabled economic miracle.

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