Huang Zumo, Director of China's Longest-Running Film, Dies at 90

'Romance on Lushan Mountain' still playing after 31 years.


BEIJING – Thirty-one years after he dared to show China its first kiss on film, the director of the movie that also holds the record as the longest first-run in a single cinema anywhere in the world is dead.
Huang Zumo died Saturday of heart failure in a Shanghai hospital, the Xinhua News Agency reported Monday, citing a Shanghai Film Group official. Huang was 90 years old.
But Huang’s film, Romance on Lushan Mountain, a politically-charged drama that dates back to the early years of relations between the People's Republic of China and the United States, lives on.
According the Guinness Book of World Records, Lu Shan Lian, as it is known in Mandarin, has screened every day at the Jiangxi Movie Circulation and Screening Co. since it opened there on July 12, 1980, becoming a steady tourist attraction over three decades.
In the film, the daughter of a Nationalist general who retired to America after the Chinese Civil War returns to China for sightseeing at Mount Lu. There, in the south-central China summer resort, she meets and falls in love with the son of a retired Communist officer who has the bravado to peck her on the cheek.
After initially rejecting their proposed marriage, the two fathers meet on Mount Lu, both intent on the reunification of the People's Republic with Taiwan, the island to which the Nationalists fled in 1949. They rehash their differences and thaw their hostility, finally blessing the matrimony.
Huang didn’t live to see reunification, but he did survive long enough to see the making of a tribute sequel called Romance on Lushan Mountain 2010, directed by Zhang Yu, the actress-turned-director who played the heroine in the 1980 original.
But Zhang, who at 23 became something of a fashion icon for braving the taboo-breaking kiss and for her multiple costume changes in the 1980 film, is probably wishing she’d left the memories untouched.
Chinese critics panned her remake for focusing on the romantic and Western materialist exploits of the city-dwelling daughter of the original film’s couple. One critic, who noted that the sequel also featured a fair amount of kissing, called it nonetheless “flashy and superficial from head to toe.”
Although China Central Television helped plug the remake to the Chinese masses, Zhang’s film grossed only 4.5 million yuan ($685,000) at the box office, according to data from Beijing-based industry research firm EntGroup.