Sunday, April 12, 2009

Ruan Lingyu's Home

Ruan Lingyu was a silent-movie star from Shanghai's 1930 cinema - she's the most well-known actress from the era. She injected drama into roles that were honestly usually very silly and slight, and she stood up to the task when she starred in "The Goddess," generally recognized as one of the best films of early Chinese cinema. She's also well known for her sad life, which led to her eventual suicide at the age of 24 - really a lot of actresses from the era ended up as tragic figures.

I've brought up "The Goddess" before - it can be watched freely off the Internet, I think it's worth a look. Still, while I think she was a good actress and I enjoy watching older Shanghai movies, I never considered myself an obsessive fan. At the least, I'd never considered making a pilgramage to sights associated with Ruan Lingyu. Still, that's exactly what I did recently, and I'll post a few pictures.

The site was her old house at #9 Xinzha Lu, it's inside the Qinyuan Village apartments. Ruan Lingyu lived there from early on in her stardom, until her eventual suicide. The apartment is nothing spectacular now, certainly it doesn't look like the residence of a film star, or of the many other prominent artists who lives there. However, it must have been more impressive back in the day - for one, the apartment has since been sub-divided into multiple living spaces, like a lot of older Shanghai residences.

It's still an interesting, if unspectacular, place to look around, with a few architectual flourishes.

Getting there isn't too difficult: It's a five or ten minute walk north from the Plaza 66 mall, on the north side of Xinzha Lu, between Changhua Lu and Jiangning Lu. Despite being very central towards downtown development, there's a number of other older-style buildings in the area:

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