Alian (阿蓮) is a rural township at the northern extent of coastal Kaohsiung, right on the border with Tainan, in southern Taiwan. Although it isn’t a very busy place nowadays, it was once home to two movie theaters, only one of which remains in any form. This is the eponymous Alian Theater (阿蓮戲院), in business since the 1960s, and now a branch of PX Mart (全聯福利中心), the largest supermarket chain in the country.

Alian Theater 阿蓮戲院
The former Alian Theater, now a busy supermarket in the center of this rural market town.

Business records1 indicate Alian Theater was established in 1967 by Bāo Tiānfēi (包天飛). A local guidebook suggests Alian Theater was the successor to Dōngguāng Theater 東光戲院, a cinema with seating for 400 originally located at intersection of Zhongzheng and Minzu, on the northwest corner of the very same city block2. Presumably this means the former theater was also owned and operated by Bao Tianfei, but I’ve not seen anything to substantiate this connection.

Alian Theater 阿蓮戲院
Another look at Alian Theater from the front. Townspeople seemed somewhat curious why I’d be interested in this ordinary supermarket.
Loading Dock at Alian Theater 阿蓮戲院
Alian Theater from the left. Not much room in this laneway for wide angle photography.

I could find no other details about Alian Theater, but some lore about the other theater in town can be found online3. Guómín Theater (國民戲院, or National Theater, if you prefer a direct translation) was located on the northwest side of town, in a laneway just west of Minsheng Road, not far from the junior high school. It was operated by local area theater tycoon Yè Zhàochāng (葉兆昌), who also owned theaters in nearby Hunei and Luzhu4. It was demolished and converted to housing decades ago.

Closer View of Alian Theater 阿蓮戲院
A closer look at what must have been the main sign for the old theater, with four characters in its name.
Oblique View of Alian Theater 阿蓮戲院
An oblique view of the theater facade.
The Former Alian Theater 阿蓮戲院
Alian Theater in context, now the main supermarket for this small town in rural Kaohsiung.

Apart from that, I can also report nothing of the interior of the theater seems to remain—it looks like an ordinary grocery store inside. There’s always a chance the original projectors and other artifacts of Alian’s cinematic past remain hidden inside somewhere, but staff weren’t interested in my inquiries, so that will remain a mystery for now.

  1. Numerous sites share Taiwanese business records, but you may as well try this entry for details. It is also worth noting that the theater may have been operating prior to 1967; my understanding is that businesses were not always registered right away, and data in these old public records is not always completely accurate anyhow. 
  2. This information was sourced from a local guidebook, Happy Little Village Alian: Kaohsiung City Alian District Guidebook (幸福小郷有愛啊連:高雄市阿蓮區導覽手冊). Theater capacity information was gleaned from the Taiwan General Guide (台灣通覽), published by Ta-Hwa Evening News (大華晚報社) in 1960, which only lists Dongguang Theater and Guomin Theater operating in Alian. 
  3. Information about Guomin Theater was sourced from this blog post
  4. Several other theaters owned and operated by Ye in the 1960s: Yījiǎ Theater (一甲戲院, demolished); Wànguó Theater 萬國戲院 (in Luzhu, still standing); and Xīnzhuāng Theater (新莊戲院, status unknown) in Yanpu, Pingtung

Write a Comment

Markdown and basic HTML are both allowed in the comments.
Your email address will not be published; required fields are marked