Professor Pai Hsien-yung’s Public Lectures on Literary Adaptation: From Novel to Film Faculty of Arts

Following his three previous public lecture series on The Dream of the Red Chamber and Kunqu opera, Prof. Kenneth Pai Hsien-yung, Distinguished Professor-at-Large, hosted a series of two public lectures at CUHK on film adaptations of novels. He shared his views on the intertwining nature of films and novels as artistic mediums, and provided analysis of two 1980s Chinese films, Jade Love and The Last Aristocrats, both of which were adapted from novels written by Prof. Pai. The lecture of 20 March was attended by Lisa Lu Yan and Brigitte Lin Ching-hsia, two renowned actresses linked to the production of The Last Aristocrats.


Prof. Pai began his lectures by focusing on the similarities and differences between novels (words) and movies (moving images and sounds), describing their relationship as “blood brothers.” He then discussed his views on the feasibility and merits of film adaptations of novels by drawing upon the works of the director Ang Lee, and novelists like Eileen Chang, Charles Dickens and James Joyce. He opined that great novels were not necessarily great adapted films, for example, the entangled emotions of characters in novels pose challenges to film adaptations.


He then turned to share the creative background and film adaptation process surrounding Jade Love and The Last Aristocrats on each respective night, read from excerpts of each novel and provided his analysis on each of the two films. During the lecture on 20 March, Ms. Lu and Ms. Lin both gave brief remarks to the audience on the film production of The Last Aristocrats.


Over 1,000 people from CUHK and beyond attended these lectures; each attendee was given a bookmark with Prof. Pai’s inscription and autograph as a souvenir.


A collection of photos and videos from these lectures will be released on our Facebook page CUHKArts, where you may also find a collection of Prof. Pai’s CUHK public lectures.



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