The Love Eterne / Liang Shanbo and Zhu Yingtai（梁山伯与祝英台）
Shaw Brothers Studio
Zhu Ying Tai: Betty Loh Ti
The Love Eterne is a 1963 Hong Kong musical film of the Huangmei opera genre directed by Li Han Hsiang. It is based on the Chinese classic story The Butterfly Lovers, which is sometimes referred to as the Romeo and Juliet of the Far East.The film was selected as the Hong Kong entry for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 36th Academy Awards, but was not accepted as a nominee.
In this dreamy romance set in China during the fourth-century, a young woman convinces her parents to allow her to dress as a boy and attend university. Once there she soon falls in love with another student, but of course, she cannot tell him the truth lest she jeopardize her chance for an education. Years later the young man learns the truth and goes to her family home to see her. He gets there just before she is to marry another. Distraught, he kills himself. When she hears about that, she trades her wedding clothes for those of mourning and visits his grave. Suddenly a terrible storm whirls around her. The grave opens up and she is sucked into its depths. The storm abates, and in the sparkling sunshine the grave reopens. From it's maw fly two beautiful butterflies--the young lovers transformed.
A young 16-year-old girl, Zhu Ying Tai, managed to convince her parents to send her to college at Hangzhou on the condition that she went in the guise of a man. Along her journey to the college, she met 17-year-old Liang Shan Bo who was attending the same school. They became sworn "brothers" and studied for three years together. Over this period of time, they formed a strong friendship. Ying Tai gradually fell in love with Shan Bo who, being a bookworm, never did discover what she was despite coming across a couple of oddities. When she was summoned home by her father, Ying Tai revealed the truth to her headmaster's wife. Ying Tai requested that she be the matchmaker for her and Shan Bo and gave her a jade pendant as a token to be handed to Shanbo.
Shan Bo walked with Ying Tai for 18 miles to send off his sworn brother. She tried several times to hint to him her identity during the journey but to no avail despite insulting him twice in her exacerbation with his denseness. Finally, she found a way and got his consent to matchmake him to her "twin sister". She exhorted him to seek out his fiancee' soon before they reluctantly took leave of each other at the pavilion where they first met. Upon returning to school, Shan Bo was restless and could not concentrate on his studies in the absence of his sworn brother. Seeing this, the headmaster's wife told him about Ying Tai, gave him the jade pendant and bade him to go propose to her.
The joy of the reunion of the two came to naught when Ying Tai told Shan Bo he was three months too late. Her father had already betrothed her to the frivolous son of the powerful and wealthy Ma family. Shan Bo, who was already ailing, was deeply grieved. He returned home and his health steadily deteriorating until he became seriously ill. Several days before her wedding day, he asked to see her again. When his servant returned instead with a token from her, it was the final blow. He sent his servant to Ying Tai with a last gift and died. Ying Tai was stricken with sorrow and forced her father to come to a compromise: to allow her to visit Shan Bo's tomb on the way to her betrothed home or she would not marry. At the tomb, she swore her undying love for Shan Bo and that if they could not be together in life, she would rather be with him in death. A tornado sprang up and an earthquake split the tomb in two whereupon Ying Tai threw herself into it. The whipping winds covered the tomb with sand. When the winds died down, two butterflies were seen soon after, flitting away to the heavens.