Shadow Magic

Synopsis: Beijing, 1902: an enterprising young portrait photographer named Liu Jinglun, keen on new technology, befriends a newly-arrived Englishman who's brought projector, camera, and Lumière-brothers' shorts to open the Shadow Magic theater. Liu's work with Wallace brings him conflict with tradition and his father's authority, complicated by his falling in love with Ling, daughter of Lord Tan, star of Beijing's traditional opera. Liu sees movies as his chance to become wealthy and worthy of Ling. When the Shadow Magic pair are invited to show the films to the Empress Dowager, things look good. But, is disaster in the script? And, can movies preserve tradition even as they bring change?
Director(s): Ann Hu
Production: Sony Pictures Classics
  3 wins & 7 nominations.
Rotten Tomatoes:
116 min

At the end of the 19th century,

the West's growing interest in China...

threatened the cultural traditions

of the Qing Dynasty.

The following was inspired

by the true story of a Westerner...

who journeyed to China in 1902.

Father, may I have

my photo taken too?

We will see.

We must catch the light.

Open all the shades.

What do we need photographs for?

We know what we look like.

I know an actor

who posed for a photograph...

and the camera stole his soul.

He never performed again.

Protect the camera.

Chang, how could you put

the reflector there?

What kind of lighting is this?

Has anyone seen Liu?

Has anyone seen Liu?

I'll find him.

Come back here, Fu Guan!

Don't just stand there!


Clean this up.

I'll find him myself.

" Pho-no-graph."

Hey, hey, hey! Easy!

I've got precious cargo here!

Liu! Father's been looking for you

everywhere! You're in trouble!

What's that?

Come and see.

Close your eyes.

He's so happy. He must have

stuffed himself with sweets.

Put me in the box too!

Where have you been?

We're losing the light.

What are you doing in here?

Master Ren, look.

When I crank this,

sounds are produced.

Think of the customer's face when

he hears this. Imagine the portraits!

Liu, that's enough.

You've gone too far!

Do you know how many people

want your job?

Last week,

it was the wind machine.

Now it's this noisy contraption.

Liu, if you can't be serious,

I'm going to have to--


Lord Tan has arrived.

Hurry up, then.

Welcome, Lord Tan!

Look! That's Lord Tan!

Lord Tan!

I've never seen him up close!

Stop, stop! Stop!

Welcome, Lord Tan!

Please, come this way.

Keep an eye on my stuff.

I hope you had a pleasant journey,

Lord Tan.

We are most honored to welcome you

to Feng Tai Photo Studio.

Are you ready to begin?

Your Lordship.

Play something.

May I introduce Liu,

our chief photographer.

Opera. Opera.

I admit, these Western tunes

have some merit, but on the whole...

I find their music

ostentatious and...

lacking in the refinements...

of our tradition.

Sing us a song!

Are you the, uh--

Are you the proprietor?

Who are you?

What do you want?

We're the same.

My-My name is Raymond Wallace.

Raymond Wallace.

- Sir, good day.

- What is your business here?

My business-- The same.


My pictures...

they move.

Living photographs that move.

- It's a worldwide phenomenon.

- Be gone!

- Hello.

- You speak English.

- Hello.

- You speak English.

A little.

Speak Chinese better.

Yeah. He understands.

Please leave my studio.

No, wait, wait.

You don't understand.

Lord Tan, sorry for the disruption.

Please, come this way.

What are you doing?

Don't touch me.

Pull back the shades!

Good! That's it!

Who is that?

An employee named Liu.

Lord Tan...

please forgive me.

Would you lift your head a little...

when you pose?

Perfect! That's it!

Let's try it now with music.

You two, start playing.

Keep an eye on my stuff.

My dearest Claire, I do miss you...

and I miss our children more than

these feeble words can convey.

I will be able to earn more here

than my creditors back home desire.

And Claire...

there will be yet more to come.

As I've told you many times...

my fortunes are on the rise.

I remain your loving husband,


There's always something new

in Lord Tan's performances!

At my age, there's nothing new.

I 'm surprised to see you here.

Well, I-I just--

You dropped your fan at Feng Tai.

- I came to return it.

- That's very kind of you.

Ling, you are expected backstage!

I'm coming!

Come again, if you like.

Thank you. I will.

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    "Shadow Magic" STANDS4 LLC, 2021. Web. 13 May 2021. <>.

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