The British Film Institute presents the best global cinema on-demand:
From classic and contemporary films to the best of the BFI National Archive.

A City of Chaos
A City of Chaos

A City of Chaos 1927


This film is certified

Please confirm that you accept our terms of use.


A City of Chaos 1927

1 mins United Kingdom

This poignant newsreel item captures the panic on the streets of Shanghai as Chinese citizens seek protection from Communist and Kuomintang violence behind Allied barricades. Within days of its release Chiang Kai-shek would declare martial law in the city and his Kuomintang would initiate the Shanghai Massacre, a brutal purge of Communists, including mass arrests and executions.

Unlike some other British newsreel items filmed in Shanghai at the time, this film focuses on the Chinese reaction to the grim events and shows ordinary people fleeing the conflict, often struggling with large bundles of possessions and furniture. The streets are swollen with refugees, and glimpses of Western military uniforms and barbed wire barricades are also on view. Towards the end of the film, a man is seen carrying a traditional shoulder yoke, with one basket full of belongings and the other holding a small child.




World War I Allied forces Refugees Shanghai


Shanghai - Pearl of the Orient Refugee Week




United Kingdom



Production company

Topical Film Company

Read lessRead more
Part of

1,000s of beautifully preserved films, capturing 120 years of Britain on Film

The map

Explore further

View Allied Reinforcements
Allied Reinforcements
Watch for free 1 mins

Allied Reinforcements 1927

Allied forces vigorously parade their strength in China's commercial capital in a bid to protect European interests.

1 mins United Kingdom

View Refugees in Shanghai: Their Life and Their Education
Refugees in Shanghai: Their Life and Their Education
Watch for free

Refugees in Shanghai: Their Life and Their Education 1945

Fascinating, sometimes harrowing record of life in camps run by international aid agencies following the bombing of Shanghai by the Japanese.

21 mins United Kingdom

View Our Boys
Our Boys
Watch for free 1 mins

Our Boys 1927

British troops make their presence felt in Shanghai as China slides towards civil war.

1 mins United Kingdom

View On the Heels of the 'Reds'
On the Heels of the 'Reds'
Watch for free 10 mins

On the Heels of the 'Reds' 1927

Troops of infamous warlord General Tsung Chang occupy strategic points in Jiangsu Province on the eve of the Chinese Civil War.

10 mins United Kingdom


View All

Welcome to a new subscription service like no other.

>100s of hand-picked classics and critically-acclaimed films

>Critic Mark Kermode picks a must-see film every week

>No contract, cancel anytime

Cookies Policy

This website uses cookies, as explained in our Cookies Policy.

To accept the terms and hide this message please click 'I accept'.

I accept

Passionate about film? So are we…

Don't miss the email made for the in-the-know film fan:

New releases — on the same day as in cinemas Special collections & unheralded classics Exclusive news on discounts

Never ask | Ask me later