Saturday, June 6, 2015

Love is a Many-Splendored Thing - William Holden (1955) - Hong Kong Island Waterfront, Opening titles

One of the standout sequences for me in this film is the opening scene where we are treated to a birds eye view of the northern shore of HK Island. Granted, the views are marred a bit by the titles but once they have finished we still see a few seconds of film that show what the place looked like before the obsession with skyscrapers ruined the view.

The sequence starts off the west side of HK Island with Green island immediately below the camera (next to the 'g' of the top image).

 As the camera (attached to a low-flying plane I suspect) flies on we can see a road on the right hand side that runs parallel to the waterfront - (just under the name 'Doss' below). You can see it a bit clearer in the second picture below as the camera gets closer. I'm open to corrections, but this looks to me to be the western end of Queen's Road West where it joins onto to Kennedy Town Praya. The Praya is separated from the sea by slightly more reclamation now, at this area, but not significantly.

Moving a little further along again and now the camera is taking us past the waterfront Connaught Road West around the area of Whitty Street and further east. None of these waterfront buildings exist anymore and these days the waterfront has given way to some ugly reclamation that houses the Western Wholesale Food Market.

Now that the titles are out of the way the camera continues on and we get an open view of Connaught Road and Des Voeux Road West which runs parallel one block to the south. In other words the wide road we can see below. 

One of the interesting things about Hong Kong is that whilst development goes on all around on the various plots of land, the roads' general shape tends to stay the same. This isn't true all the time of course and indeed sometimes smaller roads completely disappear, but looking above you can see the bend that Des Voeux Road makes (in the bottom picture) as it turns north next to Queen Street and Ko Shing Street. For a modern reference, this corner is where the IBIS Hotel currently stands.

Finally, one last zoom over the bend in Des Voeux Road West and we can see the Macau bound ferries at the waterfront. The only building that was standing in the 1950's that is still around is Western Market, and if you look very closely you can see its roof just in front of the taller building with the arched openings (I think this was a hotel, but I can't find the name of it). These days, most of the building stock around here now dates back only as far as the early 70's.

I'm hoping a ferry fan will be able to discern which ships were at port. They look like two distinctive types one of which perhaps is the Fat Shan that will crop up in my next post, in name if not in physical form.

1 comment:

  1. I believe one of the commentators on a Fox DVD release of "Love is a Many-Splendored Thing" (the release that includes several special features) described this incredible second unit opening shot, ending the comment as "it was a lucky shot". It certainly was.