In March 2020, Winter Begonia, presented and produced by Huanyu Entertainment Co., Ltd., was aired on iQiyi. It took traditional Chinese opera as the background and essential element and sparked a heated discussion on “Make Peking opera popular among young people, make our traditions trendy”.
The story takes place in Beiping (previous name of Beijing) in the 1930s, Peking opera was in its heyday but also beset with troubles home and abroad. Shang Xirui, a famous Peking opera artist, got acquainted with patriotic businessman Cheng Fengtai due to Peking opera. They became good friends and stood side by side to resist Japanese invaders and promoted Peking opera in turbulence.
Winter Begonia coats the story with Peking opera, exquisite costumes, makeup and props, and art of traditional Chinese opera to present the millennium opera art through past and present. The production team builds the Cheng mansion and Shuiyun opera stage, with an area about 20,000 square meters. The design of Shuiyun opera stage was inspired by a courtyard house, embodying the beauty of traditional Chinese architecture in its bricks, walls, cornices, bucket arches, carved beams and painted rafters. Cheng mansion is modified according to the prince’s palace. It is an ancient four-row courtyard with extravagant dining hall, winding corridors, western drawing room and Chinese pavilion to show the architecture in the Republic of China combining Chinese and western styles.
As for costumes, long gown and costume of Shang Xirui and cheongsam, trousers and blouse of Fan Xiang’er displays the beauty of Beijing embroidery, one of eight treasures of Beijing in wonderful stitches. Shang Xirui’s (played by Ying Zheng) dressing in Peking opera costume is noteworthy. Users of Weibo, Zhihu and Douban appreciate the beauty of his dressing and analyze his makeup from professional aspects, seeing the serious and rigorous attitude towards Peking opera of the production team. After being broadcast, “Ying Zheng’s dressing”, “Ying Zheng’s Peking opera costume of the female role” and “Peking opera contest between Shang Xirui and Chen Renxiang” were among most searched hashtags on platforms such as Weibo, Tiktok and iQiyi, and sparked an online discussion of Peking opera.
In fact, Winter Begonia is not the first work produced according to “Chinese style TV series and films” concept of Huanyu Entertainment Co., Ltd. Story of Yanxi Palace, the most popular TV series in the last year, is also the high-quality TV series of Huanyu Entertainment Co., Ltd. As Wei Yingluo, the protagonist of Story of Yanxi Palace, who are totally different from “pure and innocent” heroines in the past, Huanyu Entertainment Co., Ltd. tried to produce delicate “Chinese style TV series and films” and break the traditional pattern of TV series and films that were not bound by traditions and modern themes.
In the shooting of Story of Yanxi Palace, a story in the palace of Qing Dynasty (1636-1912), the production team referred to various historical documents and ancient paintings to restore historical characters. For instance, the imperial concubines wore three earrings on each ear and only painted the central part of their lips. Moreover, the drama presented many intangible cultural heritages of China such as embroidery, Chinese silk tapestry, velvet flower craftsmanship and melting iron fireworks, combining oriental aesthetics and palace culture of the Qing Dynasty. Through the combination of popular TV series and intangible cultural heritages, Huanyu Entertainment Co., Ltd. lets the audience appreciate the charm of intangible cultural heritage, inherits and revitalizes traditional Chinese culture. Low saturation hue, picture quality as good as the film, and exquisite scenery like those in palace paintings bring better visual effects in TV series and embody oriental romantic charm.
While the production team tried to restore the historical scenery in palace style of Qing Dynasty in Story of Yanxi Palace, The Legend of Haolan is another costume drama of Huanyu Entertainment Co., Ltd. with the background of the Period of Warring State (475-221 B.C.). In character modelling, costumes, makeup, and props are more delicate, and roles are different in their attires according to their states. People of Zhao State are most in white and golden clothes to show their romance and gentleness, while people of Qin State are clad in black and red dress with beast decorations to highlight their aggressiveness and boldness. The production team spares no effects to restore the historical scenery, showing that Huanyu Entertainment Co., Ltd. thinks highly of the cultural core of TV series and extols traditional Chinese culture. Take the palace of Zhao State, for example, the dome in white hue displays the magnificence of the palace while stone rings and relief sculptures stress the power of Prince Zhao. Details are essential. The Legend of Haolan is an example of rigorous production of TV series in details.
No matter Winter Begonia with a theme of Peking opera or costume drama like Story of Yanxi Palace, The Legend of Haolan or earlier Untouchable lovers, they all embody the concept building and implementation of “Chinese style TV series and films” of Huanyu Entertainment Co., Ltd. The company presents audience cultural heritage and intangible cultural heritage buried in history and memories of our predecessors through films and TV series with novel themes, exquisite costumes, makeup and props and rigorous structure of the story. To inherit and carry forward the Chinese culture through modernized communication ways, Huanyu Entertainment Co., Ltd. will spare no effort to improve the quality of films and TV series, and shoulder the responsibility to promote Chinese culture to modern society, Chinese people and go global.