Peking Opera Blues presents a jiegu fengjin metafiction to the 1980s Hong Kong of the film’s making and release. This is done by Tsui Hark evoking a past (Republican China), that draws on historical hindsights for allegorizing lessons of history with respect to colonial Hong Kong’s post-1997 future under the “one country, two systems” provision. While Peking Opera Blues does not have an explicit agenda for exerting pressure on the powers that be and for swaying public opinion in favor of democracy as an alternative to political China’s authoritarianism, it is nevertheless a commentary on the long, unsuccessful, march to Chinese democracy and its impact on contemporary society, most especially Hong Kong. Tsui Hark achieves this by particular forms of editing and mise en scène, and also by referencing Chinese cultural forms such as Peking opera, mandarin duck and butterfly fiction, the “three-women” films, and Canto-pop and Mandarin songs.
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