Le Palanquin des Larmes – (Bridal Tears)

The challenge:

Le Palanquin des Larmes is the movie adaptation of the international best seller written by the pianist Chow Ching Lie. This vast autobiographical novel tells the saga of the Lie family from 1887 till the end of the Maoist cultural revolution (1966-1976)



This saga begins in a village of South China dominated by a feudal system that brought about slavery, poverty and intolerable miseries. The story then moves to the fabulous, dashing Shanghai of the roaring twenties and thirties.

The story them moves into the atrocious and cruel years of the Japanese invasion when more than twenty million Chinese died of hunger. Then the saga leads us to the fall of Shanghai to the Maoist army, the repression and finally the horror of the Cultural revolution.


Suzana responded to this tremendous challenge by driving the creation to the point of respecting the number of buttons on dresses to define the passing of time in certain epoch, or to consider the various nuances and shades of blue to mark certain regions of China.

In the big scenes (there were often thousands of extras in one single scene) Suzana had costumes made in different shades of the same colours to accentuate and intensify the mass movements.

1906, bandits steal the costumes of the touring theater group, Lie is badly wounded. Unable to replace the costumes, he is forced to flee, with his family to Shanghai.

One of the most important challenges has been to renounce certain personal aesthetics and opt for a faultless authenticity. “Le Palanquin” is certainly one of the films shot in China that reflects this authenticity, echoing thus the truthfulness of the real drama.


Having become rich in Shanghai, Lie comes back to his village and buys the biggest house. The match maker quickly finds a little girl (Tong hai who is just five years old) to marry her to Lie’s son, (Wei Hi who is twelve) The contract is signed.



Tong Hai comes back to the village to see her mother for the first time after fifteen years. According to the Chinese tradition, the parents of the bride have no right to assist at the marriage, nor to see their daughter after.




Suzana Fischer (surrounded by her two assistants) puts a last touch before shooting the scene.

In spite of the complexity of this production, the costume budget was totally respected.

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