Two Stage Sisters

Jia Chen got very excited when some films by the People's Republic director Xie Jing were shown at the university. She insisted that everybody go. The one I liked best was called - "Two Stage Sisters." The early part of the film showed the two little girls as they grew up in a travelling opera troop and finally became stars in Shanghai, one sister taking the male roles and the other the female. The film here is beautiful, the robes and elaborate headresses; the make-up; the harsh twanging music and drama-filled high song; the two women on the stage, very luminescent and soft and rich do they glow.

However, on the fringes of their lives, radical social change is brewing, and each sister takes her own path in relationship to it. The sister who plays the men meets a revolutionary cadre. She begins to attend political meetings and raise her consciousness. The sister who plays the women, starts wearing Western clothes, high heels and lipstick, and getting tipsy in bars with capitalists.

As the story progresses, the revolutionary sister has clearly made the correct choice. She decides to leave the opera and fight full time for the communists. As war sweeps away centuries of privilege, the bad sister falls on hard times. Her capitalist lovers flee. Destitute amd miserable she finally attones by maaking a revolutionary gesture that takes her life. The two sisters are reunited as she dies.

A good story for all the lesbians that flocked from women's studies to view it. Given that the heroine was the sister who figuratively and literally departed from both traditional and western models of femininity. A good story for the straight sisters who could groove on the well-developed body and good-looking, blocky head of the revolutionary cadre. A good story for us all in our revolutionary fervor - because although the blue mao suits correctly supplanted the billowing silks, we got a righteous and titilating glimpse of all that old beauty.

Other memories jogged by this photo. Further memories jogged by this photo. This Photo. All the Photos

Culture/Politics Trail - America

Alternate Navigation Strategies

Photos in Chronological Order


Map/Diagram of Story Elements