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A romantic retelling of iconic West Lake

By Xu Fan| chinadaily.com.cn| Updated: March 8, 2022 L M S


A scene in The Chanting Willows . [Photo provided to China Daily]

As a landmark attraction that has captivated many poets and artists over centuries, West Lake, located in East China's Zhejiang province, has again become the "protagonist" in a movie.

The Chanting Willows, set in the southwestern bank of the lake, opened across domestic theaters on March 5. Under the helm of female director Dai Wei, the movie marks the acting debut of Zheng Yunlong, a famous Chinese musical theater actor and singer, who joins actresses Wang Yang and Kan Xin, to play a painter and two best female friends working at a local Yueju Opera theater.


Director Dai Wei (second from left) alongside the three lead actors (consecutively from left) Wang Yang, Zheng Yunlong and Kan Xin at the Beijing premiere of the West Lake-set movie The Chanting Willows. [Photo provided to China Daily]

With its Chinese title Liu Lang Wen Ying (yellow warblers singing in a sea of willows), one of the 10 most famous scenic spots surrounding the lake, the film recounts the melancholic love triangle of the three young people, whose lives are affected by the rapidly changing 1990s, when traditional art theaters are struggling with the shrinking market. The movie is adapted from Aiqing Xihu (Love Stories at West Lake), a novella collection written by Mao Dun Literature Prize-winning novelist Wang Xufeng.

Director Dai said she has always been interested in telling stories about women's striving and status quo, during the movie's Beijing premiere in a downtown cinema on March 4. She revealed that she spent more than two years on the preparation, from polishing the script to selecting the cast.

"Over the years, I felt I was like 'living' together with the three characters. So when I finally met the right actors among the many candidates, the moments were like a reunion with friends you have known for a long time," according to a memoir note released on the popular review aggregator Douban.

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