Director: Josef von Sternberg
Runtime: 82 minutes
Country: United States
Academy Awards 1932
“You’re in China now, sir, where time and life have no value.”
– Henry Chang in Shanghai Express
On board a Shanghai-bound train caught between the crossfire of the Chinese Civil War, a notorious courtesan played by Marlene Dietrich alias Shanghai Lily, encounters an old flame who becomes embroiled in a dangerous showdown. Dressed in ornate fantasies of intrigue and adventure, von Sternberg’s train thriller exposes the Western fascination with the East, whose destination is less a geographical reality than a cultural masquerade.
Heady with pre-Code scandal and melodrama, Shanghai Express is simultaneously a cinematic spectacle and a product of its time – Warner Orland’s brownface, Marlene Dietrich’s racialized alter ego as a Shanghainese hostess, and Anna May Wong as a cultural broker all underline abrasive questions of race and colonialism.
Disclaimer: This programme features films which include outdated and historically inaccurate depictions, including instances of minstrel shows, yellow and brownface. Rather than deny or erase the colonial apparatuses in film history, these films and their complex legacies should be critically viewed in its original form, contextualised and discussed.
Oldham Theatre’s opening hours
The full Orienting Paradise: Western Projections of the East programme can be found here. Tickets will go on sale Friday, 25 March 2022.
Friends of AFA members may select the “Friends of AFA” option and enter your membership number if you wish to redeem your remaining complimentary tickets.
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Do note that Oldham Theatre does not play ads and screenings will start promptly. Arrive early so as not to disrupt the screenings. All patrons are encouraged to purchase your tickets online to be able to secure a seat. If you choose to purchase tickets or merchandise at Oldham Theatre’s box office, cashless payment is preferred.
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Concession tickets apply to Students (Local & Overseas), Full-time National Servicemen (NSF), Senior Citizens (55 years and above) only.
Please check film ratings before purchase of tickets. Please note that you may be asked to present your ID at the door (this applies to concession tickets as well). Only physical photographic identification is allowed, digital copies of identification are not allowed. AFA reserves the right to turn away any members of the public without physical photographic identification.
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