Spring Song
Hong Kong 1959
Directed by Evan Yang.

Li Qingping (Grace Chang) is a poor girl, the first in the family to be heading off to college. Of course, her family might not be so poor if it wasn't so darn big, but never mind. She marches heroically to University, and becomes roommates with Sun Jinje (Jeanette Lin Tsui), who is filthy rich. Qingping is the best singer, and gets nicknamed Songbird, while Jinje is the best athlete, and is nicknamed Peter Pan, for reasons that are never made entirely clear. The boys instantly take a shine to them, especially the wiry, dorky Monkey (Peter Chen Ho), and the hunky, muscular Buffalo (Roy Chiao).

Only trouble is, the tough, athletic guy likes the singing girl, while the wiry, dancing guy likes the sporty girl. Jealousy erupts when the four take an Elvis-movie-like day trip and go waterskiing and dance to Rock 'n' Roll. After that they fight a lot and pout even more until their parents, their English teacher, and a horseriding accident bring them back together. In the end, everyone gets together and sings the school anthem:

Let's praise the school life We're getting toghether We're loving each other Teachers guide our study Finish our homework and play What a happy school life!

Study hard, don't be lazy
Otherwise we'll regret in future
Never waste our time

Apply what we've been learned
Work hard and endure hardships
We're creating a new paradise!

The promotional materials for the film allege halfheartedly that it is "most probably the first Hong Kong film about college life," which in fact it may well be. But it's not a very dramatic sort of college. In fact, the film reminded me most of all of an educational newsreel about going to college. At any moment I expected the narrator to break in. "Now it's time for Qingping to visit her guidance counselor, to find out whether Home Economics is the right major for her."

SPRING SONG is pretty slow going. The only thing worse than constantly grinning Grace Chang is a constantly pouting Chang. She alternates throughout the picture. About halfway through the proceedings come to a grinding halt when Qingping and some of her fellow students put on an Opera performance, the excerpt "Chunxiang Disturbs the Study" from Peony Pavilion. Chinese Opera music and "Que Sera, Sera" in one movie is a heady mix to be approached only with the greatest of caution.

Rating: Marginally Recommended (Marginally Recommended)

Posted by Peter Nepstad on February 18, 2005.

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