Zhuangzi Tests His Wife
|Some or all of this article's listed sources may not be reliable. (September 2013)|
|Zhuangzi Tests His Wife|
|Directed by||Beihai Li|
|Produced by||Beihai Li|
|Written by||Minwei Li|
Zhuangzi Tests His Wife (Traditional Chinese: 莊子試妻 Zhuangzi shi qi) is a 1913 Hong Kong drama film directed by Li Minwei. It is the first ever feature film in Hong Kong cinema. It also became the first ever Chinese film to be shown abroad, when it was exhibited in the Chinese communities of Los Angeles and San Francisco.
Philosopher Zhuangzi (Wade-Giles: Chuang Tze) meets a woman fanning the newly built grave of her dead husband because she desires to marry again. On returning home, Zhuangzi decides to put his wife to the test by faking his own death. His wife is grief-stricken and goes into mourning. While funeral arrangements are in progress, a handsome young man come to call on Zhuangzi. Later, there is talk of marriage between Zhuangzi's wife and the man. However, the young man falls ill; his servant says that taking his brain is the only way to cure him.
Li Minwei stars as the wife of Zhuangzi, while Li Minwei's wife Yan Shanshan plays a servant girl, thus making her the first ever Chinese film actress. The two-reel film was successful and was shown in the United States by Polaski.
Historical background: Taoism
Zhuangzi (396 BC-289 BC) was one of the two defining figures of Chinese Taoism, based his philosophy that all things change and that the perception of truth depends on the context under which it exists.
Throughout history, his teachings have been particularly favored by Chinese scholars and artists, many of whom have been inspired by Zhuangzi's philosophy.
In other media
Zhuangzi Tests His Wife has been performed by the Peking Opera, and other local stage performances.
Most of the operatic versions of the story ends with Zhuangzi burying his wife after she commits suicide for being disloyal to her husband. But this version tackles the story from a different angle. While Tian Shi still commits suicide in the end, Zhuangzi turns her and himself into butterflies and then, eventually, into dust.