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Adapted for the Screen

The Cultural Politics of Modern Chinese Fiction and Film

Hsiu-Chuang Deppman

Publication Year: 2010

Contemporary Chinese films are popular with audiences worldwide, but a key reason for their success has gone unnoticed: many of the films are adapted from brilliant literary works. This book is the first to put these landmark films in the context of their literary origins and explore how the best Chinese directors adapt fictional narratives and styles for film. Contemporary Chinese films are popular with audiences worldwide, but a key reason for their success has gone unnoticed: many of the films are adapted from brilliant literary works. This book is the first to put these landmark films in the context of their literary origins and explore how the best Chinese directors adapt fictional narratives and styles for film. With her sophisticated blend of stylistic and historical analyses, Deppman brings much-needed nuance to current conversations about the politics of gender, class, and race in the work of the most celebrated Chinese writers and directors. Her pioneering study will appeal to all readers, general and academic, who have an interest in Chinese literature, cinema, and culture.

Published by: University of Hawai'i Press

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Acknowledgments

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pp. vii-viii

I wrote the bulk of this book in 2006–2007 on a research leave from Oberlin College. A Freeman Curriculum Grant and two Powers Travel Grants made possible my archival research in Shanghai, Hong Kong, and Taipei. I also benefited from a 2006–2007 Research Fulbright to Taiwan, and I am grateful to ...

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Introduction

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pp. 1-10

Since 1995 all eight of Ang Lee’s films have been adaptations, and his results have been nothing short of spectacular: Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000), Brokeback Mountain (2005), and Lust, Caution (2007), to name just three. Zhang Yimou’s best movies are also adaptations: Red Sorghum (1987), Raise the Red Lantern (1991), and To Live (1994). In 2002, Dai Sijie took the art of Chinese self-adaptation ...

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Chapter 1 Wang Dulu and Ang Lee: Artistic Creativity and Sexual Freedom in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon

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pp. 11-33

Viewers of Ang Lee’s blockbuster Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000) are always intrigued by the last scene in which Jen (Zhang Ziyi) leaps off the bridge for no obvious reason. It is not easy to decide whether this is a suicidal act, an attempt to eliminate shame and compensate for misdeeds—in which case Jen may be revealing a repressed Confucian sensibility—or an act ...

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Chapter 2 Su Tong and Zhang Yimou: Women's Places in Raise the Red Lantern

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pp. 34-60

If Ang Lee is a wide-ranging director’s director from the Chinese/Tai-wanese diaspora, Zhang Yimou is a versatile chronicler of mainland China’s ideological and social transformations from the 1980s on. It is a China he has experienced from many perspectives: as the cinematographer in Chen Kaige’s groundbreaking movie Yellow Earth (1984); as the male lead in ...

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Chapter 3 Eileen Chang and Stanley Kwan: Politics and Love in Red Rose (and) White Rose

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pp. 61-97

Like directors Ang Lee and Zhang Yimou, fiction writer Eileen Chang (Zhang Ailing, 1920–1995) can be considered a blockbuster artist. Chang Fans (Zhang Mi) are spread across the globe and reach deep into diverse Chinese-speaking communities. Her stories appeal to both laymen and scholars because they depict rich and revelatory encounters between ...

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Chapter 4 Liu Yichang and Wong Kar-wai: The Class Trap in In the Mood for Love

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pp. 98-122

A key representative of the Hong Kong Second Wave,1 Wong Kar-wai (Wang Jiawei, b. 1956) stands out as one of the hippest and most critically acclaimed directors in the world. He experiments with different genres, makes complex and beautiful movies, and can generally be taken as a pure example of why Hong Kong cinema has become popular in the West. From ...

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Chapter 5 Dai Sijie: Locating the Third Culture in Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress

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pp. 123-148

Unlike the writers and directors examined in the other chapters, Dai Sijie is a relatively unknown artist in the Sinophone world. Because China has banned both the film and novel versions of Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress (novel 2000; film 2002), his most popular work worldwide, curi-ous readers cannot even find his name in the China Film and Television ...

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Chapter 6 Hou Xiaoxian and Zhu Tianwen: Politics and Poetics in A Time to Live, A Time to Die

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pp. 149-173

So far in this book we have seen novelists who are aficionados of cinema and filmmakers who are literary buffs. We have seen interactions, borrowings, and transformations between literature and film on topics ranging from politics to aesthetics to historical representation. And yet, despite robust cross-fertilization, Chinese adaptation has almost always been a one-way ...

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Chapter 7 Chen Yuhui and Chen Guofu: Envisioning Democracy in The Personals

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pp. 174-192

In the overall context of the book, my final two artists Chen Yuhui (b. 1957) and Chen Guofu (b. 1958) stand out for the ways they reconfigure autobiography, democratization, and gender politics. They investigate the fragmented subjectivity of postmodern professional women and mix such narrative genres as documentary, drama, anthropological field study, diary, fiction, and ...

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Conclusion

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pp. 193-195

Throughout this book I have pulled at many threads in the fabric of Chinese film, literature, and cultural politics. Rather than pursuing the question of “fidelity” in adaptation—a trap in every guise from the political to the philosophical to the technical—I have emphasized individual contexts and meanings, each of which has advanced Chinese cinema and literature in an ...

Notes

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pp. 197-213

Bibliography

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pp. 215-229

Selected Filmography

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pp. 231-233

Index

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pp. 235-243


E-ISBN-13: 9780824860653
Print-ISBN-13: 9780824833732

Publication Year: 2010

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Subject Headings

  • Film adaptations -- History and criticism.
  • Chinese fiction -- 20th century -- Film and video adaptations.
  • Motion pictures and literature -- China.
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