Available on iTunes & Amazon

In the early 1900s, Hollywood was enamored with Shanghai. Cinema legends ranging from Charlie Chaplin (Shanghaied 1915) to Alfred Hitchcock (East of Shanghai 1932) to Orson Welles (Lady from Shanghai 1948) all found themselves inspired by the cosmopolitan Chinese city at some point during this period. In 1932, Josef von Sternberg's Shanghai Express even made its way to the Oscar stage, winning the award for Best Cinematography. Despite this industry-wide fascination with Shanghai, many Western filmmakers still viewed the city through a narrow exoticed lens. In fact, the city itself hardly appeared in any of the films while cultural differences between the East and West were often grossly exaggerated on Hollywood sound stages.

The Wandering Songstress (天涯歌女) feat. Zhang Le (张乐)

To catch a more authentic glimpse of Shanghai during this time, one should turn to the Chinese films of this era, many of which remain popular to this day. Entertaining classics of all genres were created including the slapstick comedy 还乡日记 -Diary of the Homecoming (1947), the action packed Greedy Neighbors (1933), the romantic dilemma Spring in a Small Town (1948), the costume drama Dream of the Red Mansions (1944), and the horror flick Song at Midnight (1937). On the animated front, cartoons such as Princess Iron Fan (1941), The Conceited General (1956), and Uproar in Heaven (1964) captured audiences of all ages with their beautiful imagery and slightly subversive content.

Pictures in Motion, the latest album from the electronic group The Shanghai Restoration Project, pays tribute to these classic films with a collection of twelve mostly original compositions, each inspired by a different movie from the era. Primarily instrumental, the tracks reflect the mood and themes of each film (sometimes light-hearted and fun, sometimes majestic and uplifting, other times dark and brooding). The last song on the album, a remake of the classic "The Wandering Songstress" from the famous film Street Angel (1937), features renowned Shanghainese jazz vocalist Zhang Le.

Enjoy the show.

Mastered by Nathan James | Video by NeochaEDGE | Cover by Sun Yunfan

Watch old Chinese movies for FREE at the Internet Archive (click below for link):

还乡日记 Diary of the Homecoming (1947)
大路 The Highway (1934)
红楼梦 Dream of the Red Mansions (1944)
恶邻 Greedy Neighbors (1933)
夜半歌聲 Song at Midnight (1937)
小城之春 Spring in a Small Town (1948)
铁扇公主 Princess Iron Fan (1941)
体育皇后 Queen of Sports (1934)
骄傲的将军 The Conceited General (1956)
神女 The Goddess (1934)
馬路天使 Street Angel (1937)