Mabel Cheung Yuen-Ting's An Autumn's Tale
Publication Year: 2008
Published by: Hong Kong University Press, HKU
Series: New Hong Kong Cinema
The New Hong Kong cinema came into existence under very special circumstances, during a period of social and political crisis resulting in a change of cultural paradigms. Such critical moments have produced the cinematic achievements of the early Soviet cinema, neorealism, the nouvelle vague, the German cinema in the 1970s and, we can now say, the recent Hong Kong cinema. If this cinema grew increasingly intriguing in the 1980s, after the announcement ...
Preface to An Autumn's Tale
An Autumn's Tale quietly reaches out to the Hong Kong film fan open to a change of pace from martial arts capers, police dramas, and Chinese historical epics. A diasporic romance featuring subtle but powerful performances by lead actors Chow Yun Fat and Cherie Chung, the film offers a refreshing glimpse of how people are changed by the cross-cultural encounter. Released in 1987, and directed by Mabel Cheung Yuen-ting, An Autumn's Tale is ...
First and foremost, I extend sincere thanks to Gina Marchetti, who graciously reaches across disciplinary boundaries and looks for ways to enrich the conversation about Hong Kong film in many settings. She suggested I consider writing for the series and I have been the beneficiarγ of her formidable knowledge of film. It has been a pleasure to work with Colin Day and Ian Lok at Hong Kong ...
1. Introduction: Mabel Cheung Yuen-ting and the Women of Hong Kong's Second Wave
Despite the fact that Mabel Cheung Yuen-ting is the first woman director to be recognized in this series, she and her peers have had a significant impact on the Hong Kong film industry. Scholars who have noted that the 1980s was a golden decade for Hong Kong film, also remind us that women's cultural production in Hong Kong accelerated in the last two decades of the 20th century. Directors ...
2. An Autumn's Tale as Transnational American Studies
Thanks to its connections to Hollywood (and to society and culture in the U.S. more generally), to the ever-deepening hybridization of Hong Kong and Hollywood styles, and to the flow of people and ideas across the Pacific, Hong Kong films do a particular type of cultural work, often referencing and at times both contesting and reconstructing certain “ American" myths and/or histories. Migration melodramas, like many Hong Kong films "flip the script" ...
3. Plot Summary of An Autumn's Tale
An Autumn's Tale begins with the arrival of Jenny (Cherie Chung) in New York City where she will join her boyfriend, Vincent (Danny Chan) and attend graduate school. Retired sailor and n'er-do-well, Samuel Pang (Chow Yun Fat) - also nicknamed “Boathead," “ Figurehead," or “Figgy" -is a distant “cousin" of Jenny's who has agreed to meet her at the airport. Figgy and his friends arrive late to collect Jenny (they have been gambling in Atlantic City) but Figgy ...
4. An Autumn's Tale, Assimilation, and the American Dream
Although there are many powerful myths and ideologies that circulate in U.S. society, among the most powerful is the notion of the American dream. While there is no one specific definition of the dream, Americans generally understand the meaning to be that if one works hard, opportunities for success are plentiful in the United States. As Jennifer L. Hochschild has noted in her work on ...
5. A Tale of Two Cities: New York in An Autumn's Tale
An Autumn's Tale takes us to a New York City that is, in the same instance, both familiar and foreign. On the familiarity front, audiences “know" certain New York City landmarks that appear in the film, such as the Statue of Liberty, the Brooklyn Bridge, Central Park, Battery Park, and Times Square. Cheung uses New York City landmarks, neighborhoods, modes of transport, and various urban ...
6. Reconfiguring Gender in Diaspora
In this chapter, the focus shifts from transnational American studies, although the imprint of nation and national identity is still visible. Here An Autumn's Tale becomes a rich text to consider from a gender studies perspective. Recent work in transnational feminist/women's studies and men's/masculinity studies provides theoretical grounding for understanding multiple issues of gender ...
7. Conclusion: An Autumn's Tale in 2007
Two decades after its release, An Autumn's Tale remains, in the minds of many, a Hong Kong cinema classic. In addition to recognizing its staying power and popularity with a multi-generational fan base, the film merits an even more prominent place in the discussion of the Hong Kong New Wave/Second Wave. An Autumn's Tale sheds light on a particular time (the late 1980s) ...
Appendix: Interview with Mabel Cheung Yuen-ting and Alex Law