This film is part of Free

Hong Kong c.1938

The daily grind for Hong Kong dockers and farmers, captured by an amateur filmmaker.

Amateur film 1938 17 mins Silent


This beautiful amateur film records the daily rhythms of Hong Kong's harbour. Aside from the boys playing jacks and men dozing in baskets, everyone is busy working: bare-footed dockers loading and unloading, boys winching goods in unison and tiny tots fishing. At a rural location, farmers gather straw in a scene surprisingly reminiscent of Humphrey Jennings' English Harvest, shot the same year.

Among the boats visible in the harbour are the Japanese merchant ship Kuronime Maru, and the RMS Empress of Asia which had recently evacuated refugees from Shanghai during the Japanese invasion. The filmmaker A. J. Hall shot several other films of 1930s Hong Kong including footage of George VI's coronation celebrations, a dragon boat race, the aftermath of the Great Hong Kong Typhoon of 1937, and rice cultivation in the New Territories.