Shanghai’s cinematic blossom: Wong Kar-Wai’s epic series set to redefine television aesthetics

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25th December 2023 – (Shanghai) Hong Kong director Wong Kar-Wai, known for his visually stunning and emotionally intricate films, is set to unveil his first foray into the realm of serialised storytelling. “Blossoms Shanghai”, a lavish production six years in the making, is scheduled to premiere its first four episodes on December 27th, exclusively on China’s Tencent Video.

The series marks a significant departure for Wong, whose name is synonymous with the cinematic artistry showcased in “In The Mood For Love” and “2046”. “Blossoms Shanghai” promises to immerse audiences in the transformative landscape of 1990s Shanghai, following the ascension of a self-made millionaire, a tapestry that Wong has woven with the threads of his own native city’s history.

The narrative, spread across a sprawling 30 episodes, spotlights Hu Ge in the role of the opportunistic and complex protagonist. His journey from a tarnished past to the zenith of Shanghai’s golden era is intricately depicted, with Ma Yili, Tiffany Tang, and Xin Zhilei enriching the canvas as pivotal figures in his life.

Adapted from Jin Yucheng’s critically acclaimed novel, which won the 9th Mao Dun Literature Prize, the series is a testament to the cultural richness of Shanghai. Jin’s original prose, penned in Shanghainese, laid the groundwork for a story that could only be authentically told in the dialect of the city itself. This linguistic fidelity is mirrored in the television adaptation, with a version in Shanghainese slated for broadcast alongside the Mandarin-dubbed episodes.

The production, much like Wong’s previous cinematic efforts, has been a meticulous labour of love. The search for authentic period props – from newspapers to sewing machines – has been a nationwide quest, with the public contributing cherished possessions and the stories behind them, creating a rich tapestry of personal histories that underpin the show’s setting.

Wong’s directorial prowess, renowned for demanding countless retakes to capture the perfect shot, has inevitably extended the filming process. Yet, such fastidious attention to detail promises a visual feast that will likely set “Blossoms Shanghai” apart from its contemporaries in the television landscape.

Though anticipation for the series is high within China, the international release remains shrouded in uncertainty, with no confirmed distribution plans for Western markets. This has left many questioning whether the series will follow the route of niche DVD releases or find a home on streaming platforms where Wong’s work can reach a broader audience. The potential spiritual linkage of “Blossoms Shanghai” with Wong’s previous films, “In The Mood For Love” and “2046”, adds another layer of curiosity and intrigue for cinephiles around the world.

With the release imminent, promotional material teases the intricate relationships and the era-defining backdrop of the series. Wong’s intent is clear: to invite viewers not just to observe but to experience the fervour, ambition, and the multifaceted human experiences of Shanghai’s most transformative decade.