Film: 5578

Places + Locations | 1960 | Sound | Colour


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A day in the life of Hong Kong in Asia 1960's

First shot shows a coastline (at sunrise or sunset) with ships passing by. Cut to an overview of the harbour with mountainous hills in the background. Credits rollover this shot. Cut to shot of Hong Kong coastline which is brightly lit by many neon signs and lights, boats pass by the camera lens. A series of shots fade in and out on various neon advertisements and shop signs. The camera comes to rest on a street scene, people are moving in and out of the shops. Cut to a view of a more rural location with mountains in the background and a small building situated beside a large body of water. Another shot shows what may be the same location from another angle, this time we see a building to the left of the picture surrounded by marshes and wetland. Another similar shot follows. Cut to a panoramic view of mainland Hong Kong - we see mountains in the distance and flatland and a river to the fore of the picture. Close up of a man wading knee deep through the water, he is fishing with a net which he trawls back and forth. The camera then pulls back to reveal the coastline behind the fisher men ( we can now see two ). Cut to a close up of a Chinese woman wearing a large black wide brimmed hat, she is dressed in black. Various shots follow which show this woman and several like her working in the fields.

The commentary identifies these women as part of the 'Haka people', they all wear the same black clothing. Cut to shot of seven women leaving the fields, all are carrying bundles of some description. The scene moves to a small town or village, two small children and a pig cross the cameras view. Further shots show street scenes and a close up of a building. The view moves to a square surrounded by white buildings, what appear to be four monks or priests walk into view. The camera moves to the interior of a temple, we pan down until we see a monk / priest playing a large drum. The temple is elaborately adorned with ornaments and gold. We move on to further shots that show more priests performing a ceremony of some kind, they are praying and playing small drums and other percussive instruments. Interspersed with this are shots of the temples statues, paintings and ornaments many of which appear to be made of gold.

Cut to an overview of Hong Kong, followed by a view of Hong Kong island as seen from the mainland (Kowloon). The camera cuts to a close up of a piece of heavy industrial equipment, a pile-driver of some sort. The images that follow are of Chinese workmen labouring on building sites; skyscrapers shrouded in bamboo scaffolding and other scenes of building site activity. The camera then cuts to a Chinese man practicing Tai-Chi. This shot is followed by one showing a Chinese woman practicing Tai-Chi. We then see a group of five people all practicing this same art. The shots that follow show people of all ages doing Tai-Chi. The camera then follows some of their movements (which are very graceful) in close up, close attention is paid to the hands.

We then cut to a shot of a white-coated technician who is operating a complex piece of machinery. Cut to shot of a large electricity pylon, camera pans from bottom to top. Cut to shot of transistor radio. Camera pulls back to show a Chinese family sitting by the radio and preparing a meal, they are on a boat. The camera shows various close ups of the people on the boat while the voiceover translates what is said on the radio (it's the Chinese shipping forecast). The camera then pulls back to show a large number of small fishing vessels, all seem to be of wooden construction.
Cut to close up of a Chinese man wearing headphones, he is working at a typewriter. The next shot, several people in the same room are doing the same job as the previous man. Behind them stand men examining large bank of computers and machinery. We see a close up of a typewriter and then move to a Chinese man sitting behind a large desk holding a pair of compasses. Close up of this man's hands as he transfers information from a small sheet to a much larger one that appears to be some form of weather chart or map. It seems likely that we are in a meteorological office. The camera returns to a close up of one of the fishermen. He is listening to his radio and the voiceover continues to translate the weather and shipping forecast. The camera then pulls back to show a plethora of boats, our view of the water is obscured by the number of boats except in the centre of the screen. Cut to a shot looking out to sea, one large boat is visible as well as an outcrop of rocks. To the right of the screen we can see a small building. One man (Chinese) looks out to sea through a pair of binoculars, another man (English) speaks in English into a microphone while a third man (Also English) writes information on a blackboard. The office seems to be a point of control and communication for Hong Kong's shipping. The camera then shows many ships of various size and shape, all are unloading and loading their wares in Hong Kong harbour.

A boat bearing the sign 'Harbourphone Service' is moored alongside a larger vessel. The camera moves to the larger vessel where we see a man dressed in white linking up a phone. Another man (Chinese) comes to use the phone. Cut to a shot of the interior of a shop where a phone is ringing, it is answered by a Chinese man smoking a cigarette. He talks for a brief time (in Chinese) and then hands the phone to a woman who has just entered the shot. The camera then cuts between shots of the man on the boat and the woman in the shop, a small part of their conversation (which is in Chinese) is translated in the voiceover. Cut to more shots of boats in Hong Kong harbour followed by a panoramic sweep of the Hong Kong waterfront, we see many skyscrapers and high-rise buildings, there are also several boats on the water moving to an fro. Cut to shot of the Star Ferry docking. Cut to shot of many Chinese commuters hurriedly passing by the camera. The camera then follows some of these people in close up. Cut to shot from the ferry terminal looking towards the buildings of Hong Kong, many people are bustling about. Cut to shot of Hong Kong skyline, the camera pans left to focus on a building.

The shots that follow are close ups of various names on buildings, they read: 1) 'The Bank of East Asia, Ltd.';
2) 'The Chartered Bank' (there are Chinese characters underneath); 3) 'Butterfield & Swine'; 4) 'Cable and Wireless'; 5) 'Jardine, Matheson and Company Limited'. Cut to shot of a crowd of people crossing the street, many are wearing suits and appear to be businessmen and office workers. Cut to more shots of street signs: 1) is initially obscured from view by a tram or bus which passes by to reveal, 'The Sincere Co. Ltd.'; 2) 'Famous Co.'; 3) 'On On Co.' (there are Chinese characters underneath);
4) 'Prompt Motors' (Chinese characters surround these words); 5) 'Honest Medicine Co.' (Chinese underneath); 6) 'Happy Children Emporium Co.' (Chinese above);
7) camera pans right from a sign in Chinese to one that reads 'Beautiful Shoes Maker' (Chinese above); 8) one sign reads 'Kwan Kei Hong Importers' while one below reads 'The Charming Garment Factory' (Chinese above); 9) 'Blue Girl Studio' (Chinese above); 10) 'Glorious Arts Chests, Carved Teak Wood & Camphorwood Chests, Furniture Etc.' (Chinese below); 11) 'Goodness Enterprises Company Limited' (Chinese above and below); 12) camera pans down building to 'Gentle Industrial Co.' (Chinese below); 13) 'Lively Industries', the camera pans down to show a Chinese man and woman surrounded by various lengths and sizes of metal tubing and other scrap metal; 14) 'Central Market' (Chinese above).
Cut to shot of a Chinese man, he wears glasses and is speaking into a microphone that bears the words 'Radio Hong Kong'.

Behind the man are several animal carcasses hanging from the ceiling. The man speaks Chinese but the voiceover translates to English, we are told that we're now in the food market. Cut to close up of a radio hanging at a market stall, the camera pans left to reveal a bustling market scene, several women are talking and inspecting the goods. Cut to a shot of a Chinese woman tending to her stall and proclaiming her wares. Camera then shows a close up of some of the goods available at the stall ( a variety of vegetables, herbs etc. ) The scene goes on to show a variety of market scenes. There are close ups of the customers as they go about their business as well as many shots of the various products on sale, ranging from fish and vegetables to the more exotic items. The camera then pans across a market stall to a group of 3 children and an old Chinese woman, in front of them there are many flowers which they are arranging. The camera closes in on these flowers and then cuts to a close up of another box of flowers.

The camera pans up and we find ourselves in a factory. Several Chinese men are operating various pressing machines, they are surrounded by boxes of various coloured flowers which, it appears, are plastic. Cut to the inside of an office, people sit at desks in front of a large bank of dials and buttons. The woman in the foreground wears a telephone headset. Cut to a close up of the machine that she works at, she is twisting various knobs. Cut to a close up of the woman's face, she is Chinese and is speaking English.

Camera cuts to a close up of a machine (it appears to be a loom). The camera pans up to reveal a whole factory of such machines. Cut to a shot of a Telex machine printing out a message. The camera then shows an office full of Chinese women all sitting at various typewriters and Telexes. A series of shots follow, they show a woman handing a piece of paper to her colleague (another woman) who then sets about entering the information into the various machines that surround her. We return to the close up of a machine that is being used to grind lenses for spectacles, a hand enters the frame and removes the grindstone. Cut to a shot of a Chinese woman polishing and inspecting the lenses, she is surrounded by many machines, another woman behind her is performing the same tasks. Cut to close up of the first woman peering through a lens, her right eye is magnified. Cut to shot of a line of Chinese women at a telephone switchboard, they all wear headsets. The camera moves along the line of operators, it cuts several times to show numbers and place names written at the top of the operating desk, these read: 1) 18 London/ Sydney,
2) 11 Canton, 3) 10 Bangkok, 4) 8 Cambodia/ Okinawa/ Colombo, and 5) 7 Karachi/ Seoul/ Shanghai.

Cut to shot of the prow of a large ship with 'Hunan' written on the side, an Union Flag flies to the left of the picture. Cut to a close up of crowd scenes, camera then shows a wider view of the crowd, they are on the dockside awaiting the launching of the ship. The camera pans left to show a platform at the base of the ship's prow, this platform is colourfully adorned with red, white and blue, two flags fly in the background. Cut to various close ups of small Chinese children watching the proceedings. Cut to shot of workmen using a 'battering ram' to free the ship of its moorings. The next shot shows a bottle of champagne which breaks upon the side of the ship. Camera pans out, cuts to a close up of the crowd - they're laughing and smiling. Cut to shot of the ship rolling from the dock, crowd visible to the right of the screen.

Cut to shot from the Victoria tram (which climbs to the peak of Hong Kong island) the city is visible in the distance. Two western women sit in the tram admiring the view behind. Cut to a panoramic view of Hong Kong and its harbour. Cut to a shot of a mother and her two children sitting in a suspended merry-go-round, they are admiring the views of Hong Kong. Cut to shot of paper lanterns seen from below, then move to a view of a street; it is narrow and crowded, a person is hanging paper lanterns from cords that criss-cross above the street. Cut to shot of some paints, a man dips his brush in and continues to paint a lantern. Cut to shot of two westerners (one male and one female) who are looking at jewellery, a Chinese man (the street vendor) stands to their right and talks with them. Shot of a street sign that reads: 'Yue Chun Chinese Antiques' (there are Chinese characters above). There follows a scene in which we see various antiques and paintings in close up, interspersed with these are shots of people (mostly Westerners) admiring these goods and talking to the stall-holders. Shot of an elderly Chinese man eating, he uses chopsticks. Cut to shot of a large residential tower block, clothes and washing hang from every conceivable space on the balconies. The camera pans down to a food market below.
Several shots follow showing many people (Chinese) eating and bustling about the food market. Shot of a man sitting on the edge of a boat eating. Shot of a western woman drinking from a bottle, she uses a straw. Cut to a shot of a western woman running up a beach from the sea, she joins the other woman who is drinking. Others are on the beach (they appear to be mostly western) but it is not crowded.
Cut to a close up of a pair of hands (male) handing money over a bank counter, another hand (female) takes the money. Shot of a busy bank counter, then an overview of the inside of the bank. Cut to shot of a Chinese woman taking a telegram to a man behind a desk. The man proceeds to translate the characters into numbers using a code book. There is then a series of shots showing the progress of the telegram, it is handed from person to person and then put in a cylinder tube that is then placed in a tube. The following shots show many pieces of machinery with flashing lights and place names such as 'Manilla', 'Rangoon' and 'Tokyo', we see two Chinese men manning these computers. Shots then follow of westerners working at typewriters and manning machines similar to those seen previously. The voice over speaks of Hong Kong's connection to various communication systems whilst a map showing South East Asia, the Pacific and the western coast of the U.S.A. and Canada is shown. Cut to shot of an office where messages are received on ticker tape. The office is bustling with activity. Cut to shot of a plane heading down the runway (which stretches into the sea). Cut to close up of a radar screen and then to the inside of an air traffic control room. Cut to inside of the air traffic control tower - a plane can be seen through the window, it is landing. Shot of Chinese man speaking into his headset. Cut to inside of plane's cockpit. Cut to shot of passengers sitting on the plane (they are of eastern and western origin). Camera closes in on one of the passengers, a Chinese woman, then the camera cuts to a black and white photograph of this same woman. The camera pulls back to show an apartment, a Chinese woman is present and is putting on a coat. Camera returns to the close up of the radar screen and then various shots of the air traffic control room. Cut back to the cockpit, see captain and co-pilot communicating (in English) through their headsets. Close up of the plane's controls. Quick close up of the female passenger seen previously, then return to cockpit and back to control room. Close up of a woman heading through a crowd outside the airport, we recognise her as the woman we saw in the apartment. Cut back to cockpit as the plane is coming in to land - Hong Kong is visible below. We stay with this view as the plane lands. Quick close up of our female passenger, then view of the plane from the control tower, camera pans back to reveal people at work. Move to crowd scene outside airport. The older woman (whom we recognise from earlier shots) stands in the centre of the shot. Cut to woman on the plane, she smiles and waves - it would appear that she is the daughter (or close relative of the older woman waiting outside). The woman outside also smiles and waves. Shot of the younger woman leaving the plane , she waves again. Cut to a shot of Hong Kong coastline, hills dominate the picture (the city appears small) boats pass by.

An elaborately designed ceiling. Camera pans down to a group of westerners sitting at a table they are being served drinks by a Chinese waiter. Cut to a view of Hong Kong's waterfront at night, many lights are visible. Cut to a shot of a young woman waiting beneath an arch, it is brightly lit and a sign above reads, 'Tai Pak'.Close up of the woman, she smiles as she is joined by a man, they enter the 'Tai Pak' and head towards a small boat. They board it and a Chinese man starts to push the boat from shore, he then powers the boat with a large stick in much the same way that a gondolier would. Shots follow showing the boats progress, there are many neon signs and lights visible in the background. A close up of the couple shows them enjoying their trip. Then cut to sweeping shot of an outdoor market, it is night and many small lamps illuminate the scene. The camera focuses upon the Chinese woman (whom we recognise as the passenger from the plane) as she walks around. Various close ups follow, they show the wares available at many of the stalls including: figurines, jewellery as well as stalls for acupuncture and so on. We follow the woman as she explores the market. She talks to many of the vendors and stops to watch people playing games such as 'Go'. She stops and sits at a stall that appears to be a small fortune tellers, the fortune teller talks to her and she smiles and laughs. The camera returns to an overview of the market, there are neon signs in the background. Cut to a view of the same area but from much further away, the city's lights are all we see. Roll credits.

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