Saturday, January 11, 2014


Run Run Shaw,"Viceroy" of Hong Kong's movie world, died at age 106.

I knew him well.  His domain, his manners, his style belong to mythology.  This elegant, frail man did not meet you, he graced you with an "audience."  Often he let me into his private screening sanctum where he presided as a deity, such as we imagine the old Hollywood moguls. The difference was that this shrewd entrepreneur was also a man of impeccable, almost diaphanous taste. His house was unusual for a Chinese, more space (James Turrell ) than clutter.
As the creator of the kung fu genre, he came to dominate an empire after the classic "Five Fingers of Death" smashed the old canons of the insular Chinese movie world with a meteoric force.  He gave us Bruce Lee who remains the ultimate martial-arts demi-god.  Shaw ruled over his empire with a reluctant grace combined with an ambition of steel.  In creating a "genre" he resuscitated culture and pride. The Chinese discovered a hero who was no longer the usual victim popularized in European media and collective memory, and in so doing he played a major role in a Chinese renaissance combining acumen with pride.

When Run Run (and entourage) returned a courtesy call by making an appearance in my residence, he taught me what the generally limited Sinology gurus ignore. When all too seldom the Chinese open their houses they purge their natural inclinations from contempt and return the compliment.  This Sun-god had rays which did not burn, they healed.  I am privileged to have made it so close to the sun, leaving behind the often sordid gossip which is taken for chatter in today's diplomatic circles that no longer dare to be what made them special, "different."

No comments:

Post a Comment