Cinema Simply Different

Ruan Lingyu was one of the most successful actresses in China in the 30’s. Her career began at a young age and she experienced a tremendous rise. Her roles often reflect her own problems and conflicts, which gives her performances a very personal touch. But already at the age of 25 Ruan is driven to suicide by the tabloid press.


Center Stage alternates between re-enacted episodes of her life and a contemporary level in which the film’s crew talks about Ruan and her life. Many scenes from their films are re-enacted and also scenes from surviving film footage are shown. Through this mixing of the levels Kwan succeeds in making a film that clearly stands out from conventional biopics and shows that you can’t simply capture the complexity of such a personality within a drama. The scenes in which Ruan’s films are re-enacted convey a feeling for her art that we rarely see in films about artists. The scenes in the present day loosen up the film in a charming way and show in an almost documentary style the creation of a biography.

Jérôme Bewersdorff
Translated by Carlos Hartmann

Other films in this program