Inter-racial Relationships in Hong Kong, 1949

Monday, September 6th, 2010

Over the summer I watched “Love Is a Many-Splendored Thing,” which was made in 1955.  It’s set in Hong Kong in 1949 when it was a British colony, and deals with the relationship between an American Correspondent and a Eurasian woman who works as a doctor.  There are other complications in the plot, of course, but the point of conflict between their inter-racial relationship came back to me as we started reading Ting.  Though she is not Asian-American, I think there is a very similar conflict.  She’s a widow (her husband was Chinese) and knows that she’s undesirable because of her mixed blood, and so she has decided to put her duty to her Chinese people first and foremost.  Here, we see the loyalty to the perhaps “inferior” race, and authenticity when she wears Chinese clothing.  Later in the movie, she reunites with another Eurasian woman from school who passes herself off as European, because she can have an affair with a European man without complication.

In this movie, these women are the example of inter-racial product, and continue to be the shunned when the idea of inter-racial relationships comes up.  The  Eurasian women are played by American actresses.  This movie is an American film, which must of course present a ton of generalities from the 1950s.  Both tall and thin, one of them is blonde.  They look more European than Asian, and represent the ideal that Americans would want to see on the screen.  None of the main characters are full Chinese.  There are some who play bit parts, but everything else is very idealized as the movie plays to its American audience.

Here’s a link to the movie trailer on YouTube.  It concerns itself greatly with the sort of Romeo & Juliet situation they’re in.

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