[left, the author out of costume]
[In the winter of 2011-12, the Chinese magazine Times Online ran a series of articles in which Chinese who had distinguished themselves during the latter part of the 20th century reviewed their careers, and how they remembered those years now. The writers were from various areas, including government, politics, business, etc. One of the contributors was from motion pictures, including a favorite of the author, the actress Brigitte Lin Qingxia 林青霞. The following is a translation of that article. Comments in brackets, like this one, are the editor's, added where he thought clarifcation might be useful.]
One hundred years ago, the comedy short《Stealing the Roast Duck》initiated Hong Kong filmmaking, and from that initial step onto the road, we have gone from silent to sound, from black-and-white to color and widescreen, and now these are coupled with computer graphics. Along the way, movies have emerged from Hong Kong, from Taiwan, from the Chinese mainland, and then gone out to many corners of the world where they have taken home numerous international awards. As a Chinese filmmaker, what do I feel truly proud of?
I entered show business right off the street in 1972, with my first movie《Outside the Window》, and it changed my life forever. If I averaged, say, one film a year, my career would have stretched out for 100 years. That career spanned three decades, the 70s, 80s and 90s, and in addition to a film career, it covered three stages of my life.
In the 1970s it was aesthetic romances. The 1980s saw social realism and witty comedies. In the 1990s it martials arts sword films.
A year after making《Outside the Window》I went to Hong Kong to promote the film, and I found the people there very welcoming. The media dubbed me the "ingenue". 《Outside the Window》grossed HK$650,000 [US$84,000 at the current exchange rate], a high box office return for an artistic film. I became famous overnight.
This screen adaptation of a novel by [Taiwan woman writer] Qiong Yao 琼瑶 [foreign name Chieung Yao, (1938- )] was popular among both men and women. After obtaining the movie rights, the film producer signed Qin Han, Chin [Qin] Hsiang-lin, Brigitte Lin and Lin Fengjiao to contracts, leading the media to say this was the era of "the two Qins and the two Lins." During the time we were filming, I was shooting as many as six scenes a day, so busy I didn't sleep in my own bed for two weeks. There was one time I fell asleep standing up against a wall, awakened only when the director shouted "Get ready, get ready!", and it was only then I would be startled awake. When I recall those days now I miss them, demanding as they were.
Fame brought pressure and long-term exhaustion, to the point where I couldn't bear it any more, so on December 29, 1979 I left the movie world for California, USA, to further my education and enjoy some freedom to spend my time as I chose.
During the 15 months I was in the United States, I made《Love Massacre》, a movie directed by Patrick Tam. Shot entirely in Los Angeles and San Francisco, this film was distinctive, not only because it was very bloody, but because in order to express feelings of coldness or passion, the director shot all the scenes against a blue or a red background. With this film I entered another stage of my movie career, and my life.
Returning to Taiwan in March, 1983, I found the movie industry had undergone a major shift, and artistic films were no longer popular. Martial law had been lifted, and film censorship had been relaxed to allow a more diversified selection of movies. In the rest of that decade I tried all genres of films, trying to adapt with the changing times and audiences' tastes in motion pictures. At first I tried to maintain a reserved attitude, with a few witty comedies, and then I made director Chu Yen-ping's witty and female-oriented action film《Pink Force Commandos》, which set some records at the box office. From that point on, my movie career left Taiwan and began its roll in Hong Kong.
I made Tsui Hark's《Zu: Warriors From the Magic Mountain》, and after that I was bonded permanently to Hong Kong. As the times changed, Hong Kong and Taiwan films began doing location shooting on the mainland, and in 1990 I went for the first time to Changchun and Harbin to film《Red Dust》, a love story against a background of the era's turmoil, and this movie brought me my only Golden Horse Best Actress Award.
In 1992 I made《Swordsman II》as "Invincible Asia," and of the 17 movies I made after that, 11 were martial arts sword films. With Tsui Hark I made a succession of successful movies,《Peking Opera Blues》,《Dragon Inn》and《Swordman III: The East Is Red》.
So in the 22 years from 1972 to 1994 I went from being a sweet and innocent teenager to playing a sword-wielding man, and witnessed the fluctuating ups and downs of motion picture trends. I made 100 films, and portrayed 100 characters, but actually Brigitte Lin's most difficult role was playing that of Brigitte Lin.