Xia Meng

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Xia Meng
Chinese name 夏夢 (traditional)
Chinese name 夏梦 (simplified)
Birth name Yang Meng 楊濛
Born (1932-02-16) 16 February 1932 (age 82)
Shanghai, Republic of China
Spouse(s) Lin Baocheng 林葆誠
This is a Chinese name; the family name is Xia.

Xia Meng (Chinese: 夏夢; a.k.a. Hsia Moon and Miranda Yang; born Yang Meng (楊濛) on 16 February 1932 in Shanghai, China) is a Hong Kong actress and film producer. She was a key figure of Hong Kong's Left Wing film scene.

Debut on stage[edit]

Xia Meng was first exposed to drama and stage play in McTyeire School, an elite girls' school established by Methodist missionaries in Shanghai. In 1947, she moved with her family to Hong Kong, where she attended Maryknoll Convent School. In 1949, In conjunction with school's event, She was chosen to play the leading role in school's English language production of Saint Joan.

Film career[edit]

In 1950, Yang Meng and her friends visited a film set of the Great Wall Movie Enterprises Ltd, and this was where she was first spotted by the crews, as well as studio manager Yuan Yang'an.

Through the help of his daughter Mao Mei (later an actress and ballerina), Yang Meng accepted Yuan's invitation and joined the studio in the age of 17. Inspired by Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream, the new actress now renamed Xia Meng (literally "summer dream") by Yuan, which Yuan metaphorically wished her dream come true as she joined the studio in summer.

The Great Wall Crown Princess[edit]

Xia Meng was given her first role as the title character in Li Pingqian's A Night-Time Wife (1951). The comedy was a hit and rocketed Hsia Moon to stardom.[1] Many other hits followed. There was the tragic demimondaine of Cao Yu's classic adaptation Sunrise, at her best as the virtuous widow of A Widow’s Tears (both 1956), The scapegoat of the feudal moral value in the critically acclaimed Hong Kong classic[2] The Eternal Love (1960),[3] the deprived bourgeoisie in HKFA Archival Gem's Romance of The Boudoir (1960),[4] and perhaps most remarkably, her gender-bending turn as a man masquerading as a woman in The Bride Hunter (1960) as well as the one of the most memorable, a massive hit during its premiere in Singapore and Hong Kong Princess Falls in Love (1962);[5] both features are the all-female Shaoxing opera comedy.

Xia Meng was the prima donna of Hong Kong left wing Mandarin movie scene, and also one of the Chinese language cinema brightest movie stars in 1950s–1960s. In 1959, Xia Meng emerged as the most actress in the Hong Kong Top Ten Mandarin Movie Star Election, organized by The Great Wall Pictorial. She is dubbed as the 'Crown Princess' of Great Wall alongside the other leading ladies of the Studio. (The 'second princess' is Shi Hui (Shek Hwei), while the 'third princess' is Chen Sisi (Chan Sze Sze))

A rare actress who embodied the beauties of a modern woman and those of a historical maiden, Xia Meng was often described as "the God's Masterpiece", and she was one of the few Hong Kong movie stars whose films were released in the People's Republic of China before the Cultural Revolution, she exuded glamour in a manner that was then no longer permitted among her mainland counterparts. The Mainland media nowadays have been frequently quoting her as the Chinese answer to Audrey Hepburn.[6]

However, Hsia Moon films, together with other Hong Kong left-wing studio production, was banned in Taiwan during Cold War era.

It has been widely reported that Jin Yong has deep affection towards Xia Meng,[7] apparently Jin Yong joined the studio as a scriptwriter to be near her. She was Jin's muse, inspiring him to model the ethereal Xiaolongnü character in his novel The Return of the Condor Heroes on her. Although his devotion to her was unrequited as Xia Meng was already happily married to a businessman in 1954, But he remained infatuated even after Xia Meng left the showbiz in 1967. To Jin Yong, her leaving Hong Kong for good was a major newsworthy event. For days, he splashed the news with front-page headlines in the newspaper he founded, Ming Pao.

Cultural Revolution[edit]

1967 summer, Xia Meng visited Guangzhou and witnessed the chaotic situation where the Cultural Revolution had just started. The dire effect was soon to be felt on Hong Kong's Studios which were influenced by Communist Party of China, and Great Wall's movies would no longer had the same cachet as before. Xia Meng realized the facts and she did not agree with that, as well as the Cultural Revolution after the visit.

Feeling insecure and threaten, Xia Meng who was pregnant at the time excused herself from involved in this grand political movement. Hence, soon after she finished the screen performance in Oh, The Spring Is Here (1967), she resigned from studio in September, and quietly left for Canada even before the film was released. It wasn't until two years later that she returned to Hong Kong, and started the business in garment manufacturing, which she kept a distance from the film industry for about 10 years.

Return as movie producer[edit]

After the end of The Cultural Revolution, Xia Meng was invited by Liao Chengzhi, vice chairman of the National People's Congress (NPC) of that time, to attend the 4th National Congress of China Federation of Literary and Art Circles(CFLAC) held in Beijing from 30 October 1979 – 16 November 1979, which considered to be her first public appearance after her final screen performance in 1967. Under the encouragement of Liao, Xia Meng decided to re-embrace the film as movie producer, marked her return to movie industry after she waited for ten years.

In 1980, she formed Bluebird Movie Enterprises Ltd, and produced the debut film Boat People (Ann Hui, 1982), a movie and landmark feature for Hong Kong New Wave, which won several awards including the best picture and best director in the second Hong Kong Film Award. After producing Young Heroes (Mou Dunfei, 1983) and Homecoming (Yim Ho, 1984), Xia Meng sold her film company to Jiang Zuyi. She has not been involved in any movie production since then.

Awards[edit]

Xia Meng's performance in Peerless Beauty (1953) and A Widow's Tears (1956) won her the Greatest Individual Achievement Award given by the Cultural Ministry of the People's Republic of China. In 1995, Xia Meng was honored the Chinese Film Stars Special Award, in conjunction with 90 anniversary of Chinese Cinema.

Political activities[edit]

She was also involved in political activities, being selected as a committee member of the Chinese National Cultural Alliance and the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference. In the meanwhile, she has been the president of South China Film Industry Workers union before.

Tribute to Xia Meng[edit]

For her contribution to the motion picture industry, Xia Meng has a star with hand print and autograph by the name of Miranda Yang on the Avenue of Stars in Tsim Sha Tsui Promenade, Hong Kong.

In August 2005, China has honored 128 movie stars in a commemorative stamp collection marking 100 years of Chinese language cinema, Xia Meng was one of the honorees.

Print Pictorials and interviews[edit]

  • Law Kar, Hsia Moon: episodes of a summer dream (Hong Kong 1995). ISBN 962-357-773-7
  • Zhu Shunci et al, An age of idealism : Great Wall & Feng Huang days, (Hong Kong Film Archive 2001). ISBN 962-8050-14-1
  • Liu Shu, The Peerless Xia Meng- A Wonderful Life of Great Wall Crown Princess,(China Film Press, Beijing, 2007). ISBN 7-106-02637-9

Filmography[edit]

As producer:

As Actress:

As Scriptwriter (co-writer)

References[edit]

  1. ^ 香港电影史话, Volume 4,余慕雲
  2. ^ http://7thspace.com/headlines/368366/hk_film_archive_celebrates_10th_anniversary_with_the_best_from_the_archive_collection.html
  3. ^ http://www.lcsd.gov.hk/ce/CulturalService/filmprog/english/2010ac/2010ac_film16.html
  4. ^ http://www.info.gov.hk/gia/general/brandhk/1219130.htm
  5. ^ Movie advertisement of Sin Chew Jit Poh, Singapore (May- June 1962); Takungpao Hong Kong (April–May 1962)
  6. ^ http://www.jx.xinhuanet.com/news/2011-04/11/content_22494163.htm
  7. ^ Jin Yong's Biography, 金庸传,傅国湧,北京十月文艺出版社, 2003
  8. ^ http://searchworks.stanford.edu/view/8727600