Abstract

The transition of the motion picture from foreign amusement to local enterprise was primarily the result of transnational commercial activity linking investors, entrepreneurs, and entertainment professionals. Amid the ongoing urbanization of China’s early Republican period, the enterprises emerging from this activity became increasingly profitable and, as a result, film production and exhibition became regularized phenomena, rooted in identifiable genres and standardized approaches to engaging audiences within the immersive space of the theater. By the early 1920s, those closest to the nascent industry were eager to legitimize its power by portraying the medium as a tool for political and social reform. However, commercial strategies and aesthetics remained relatively undisturbed despite this progressive rhetoric. In geographic terms, motion picture–related enterprises and culture remained strongly regional: affected and constrained by the non-Chinese national industries operating in politically divided China, by competing forms of local popular culture, and by existing geographies of exchange and infrastructure. The early Republican “experimental” period in Chinese cinema was, from an enterprise-centered perspective, one of numerous coexisting subnational cultural centers and zones.

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Additional Information

ISSN
2158-9674
Print ISSN
2158-9666
Pages
pp. 658-693
Launched on MUSE
2015-12-16
Open Access
No
Archive Status
Archived 2020
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