Laborer's Love- -
Cheng the fruit seller is in love with the daughter of his neighbor the doctor, but the good doctor won't let him marry her unless Chang finds him more patients. This is the earliest surviving film from the last century in China.
Cheng the fruit seller is in love with the daughter of his neighbor the doctor, but the good doctor won’t let him marry her unless Chang finds him more patients.
Watch Laborer’s Love
Laborer’s Love (劳工之爱情; Laogong zhi aiqing) is a 1922 silent short film produced in China during the Republican Era. The film on premiered October 5, 1922 at the Olympic Theater in Shanghai. It is also known as Romance of a Fruit Peddler or Romance of a Fruit Pedlar (掷果缘; Zhi guo yuan). It constitutes the earliest complete film from China’s early cinematic history that survives today. The film was also one of the earliest productions of the soon-to-be prolific Mingxing Film Company and was directed and written by Mingxing co-founders Zhang Shichuan and Zheng Zhengqiu.
Notably, the film has both Chinese and English inter-titles, indicating that at this early point in Shanghai cinema history, films were tailored to both Chinese and Western audiences.
As the film begins, Carpenter Zheng has just come back to Shanghai after living in Nanyang in Southeast Asia. Upon his return, he decides to change professions, becoming a fruit vendor. His business attracts a lot of attention from neighborhood children and Carpenter Zheng is kept busy by his work, in contrast to the struggling medical clinic across the street. The clinic is run by Doctor Zhu and his daughter Miss Zhu, and a romantic attraction quickly develops between the young woman and Zheng. The couple communicates with each other by connecting the fruit-stand to the medical clinic via a string, along which they transport baskets filled with objects back and forth to each other. Later, Miss Zhu visits Zheng’s fruit stand and he helps her to get rid of a gang member who has been harassing her. Eventually, Miss Zhu and Zheng fall in love, but Doctor Zhu opposes the relationship because of Zheng’s lower socioeconomic status. However, in the face of his own financial hardships, Doctor Zhu agrees to let Zheng marry his daughter if the younger man can help to revive his falling medical business. Zheng is dismayed, believing this to be an impossible task, but soon he comes up with the idea to modify the staircase of a gambling club near the doctor’s office. He alters the staircase so that he can transform it into a sliding ramp at will; after this, he merely has to wait for unsuspecting customers to leave the club and promptly slide to the bottom of the staircase, injuring themselves at the bottom. He repeats this numerous times, creating a huge new client base for Doctor Zhu to the point where the old man can barely keep up with the demand, requiring Zheng to step in and provide his services as well. With the medical clinic prospering once again, Doctor Zhu gladly approves the marriage between Miss Zhu and Zheng.