Christmas at the Royal Hotel, directed by the American director, Craig McCourry, describes the 17 days before Hong Kong’s fall to Japan at Christmas, 1941. The theme is how Hong Kong and Western civilians and soldiers help each other and defend Hong Kong during dark times. With the Royal Hotel as a hub or pivot, a few tragically touching friendships and love stories are interwoven, besides a spying intrigue. The hotel reminds us of Georges Feydeau and Maurice Desvallières’ L’Hôtel du libre échange and King Wu’s Dragon Inn, wherein quite a few people plot against and struggle with one another in a hotel. The indoor design of the hotel rooms is nostalgic, artistic and authentic, and the movie suggests that Hong Kong is a place where various powers struggle with each other overtly and covertly.
The director has a HK wife and loves HK deeply. In an interview with Local Press, he says that as Hongkongers survived the dark times of 1941, they surely will survive the darkness of the present. He welcomes the audience to contextualize the movie in connection with the current situation of Hong Kong. “This movie is a political hot potato. As Beijing has been keen to play down the role played by expatriate soldiers in the defense of Hong Kong, it won’t smile at this movie, ” McCourry adds. On the other hand, due to a low budget, the audience had better not expect of this film something like Saving Private Ryan. It fails to depict how tragically the outnumbered Hong Kong defenders fought against the Japanese troops. And the dialogues are all in English despite the fact that the mother tongue of most Hongkongers was and still is Cantonese. The director explains that it is because he is the playwright and he does not speak Cantonese. Moreover, he wishes to introduce to Americans and Europeans this historical event of HK.