The Mermaid (1965)

THE MERMAID (1965)
aka Yu mei ren
Article 3349 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 8-31-2010
Posting Date: 10-15-2010
Directed by Li Kao
Featuring Ching Lee, Ivy Ling Po, Yunhua Chen
Country: Hong Kong
What it is: Fantasy musical

A scholar is the promised husband to the daughter of a prime minister, but the scholar’s lack of money make him an undesirable choice. However, a beautiful carp spirit who lives in the pond has fallen in love with the scholar, and takes on the form of the prime minister’s daughter to pursue her romance. Complications follow.

There’s always something adventurous in exploring a genre you’ve never encountered before; this is the first Hong Kong musical I’ve encountered. Thankfully, the movie was subtitled in English, else I would have had a very difficult time following it. Though most of the subtitles are for lyrics to Chinese songs which simply don’t translate elegantly into other languages, the plot itself is fairly clear. The movie is imaginative, romantic, comic and exciting at different moments; it’s certainly different than anything else I’ve seen from the Shaw Brothers. Ultimately, the movie charmed me; the simplicity of the story helped me to deal with the more difficult and exotic aspects of the production. I don’t know how many more movies like this I’m going to see, but I suspect that this is a good introduction to the form.

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