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  • Zhang Yimou: Globalization and the Subject of Culture by Wendy Larson
  • Naji R Obaid
Wendy Larson. Zhang Yimou: Globalization and the Subject of Culture. Amherst, N.Y.: Cambria, 2017. 420 p.

Zhang Yimou: Globalization and the Subject of Culture comprehensively depicts both Chinese and English methodological supremacy, culture, and history in a well-documented piece. The name Zhang Yimou has been dominant in post-Mao Zedong philosophy and in Asian cinema. Highlighting the post-Maoist Chinese political era, it is therefore recommended for politically inclined individuals to get acquainted with that political mythology. It gives practical insight on how things used to work in ancient medieval Medellin politics, with particular comparison to modern stereotypes. Larson teaches very important lessons about the Chinese and their culture as it relates to globalization. Different [End Page 215] sources from English and Chinese perspectives are used to delve into Zhang's films, posing a strong argument on the potential, limitations, and the significance of the Chinese post-socialist cultural era.

Author Wendy Larson's research, including From Ah Q to Lei Feng: Freud and Revolutionary Spirit in 20th-century China; Literary Authority and the Chinese writer: Ambivalence and Autobiography; and Women and Writing in Modern China, is always substantiated by well-crafted textual descriptions and is made even stronger by comprehensive theories. Her present study significantly contributes to the global field of academic and cultural studies through its essential analysis of film director Zhang Yimou, who has, over the years, been controversial due to previous works that have raised debate among professionals. She also lays a foundation for gender, post-socialist, visual, and globalization studies.

Larson has a whole new approach to studying modern China, one of the topics that receives major attention. This most beautiful work has the propensity to attract more academic readership to culture studies and geography, probably due to its versatile theoretical knowledge and what most people consider a "Slippery Idea" of global culture; other anticipated potential readers are students in Chinese studies, film studies, and history.

This 420-page volume can be considered her magnum opus. She writes with unbiased rationale, creativity, attention to detail, and persuasiveness. It can simply be described as a seminal text since it treats a large number of Zhang's most influential works in depth, reminding everyone who has interest in cinema that the Chinese film industry has actually diversified; this book truly has the potential to guide readers down the road to understanding the Asian continent.

Larson's sophisticated assessment of Zhang's methods clearly analyzes eight out of the nine films that he directed from 1987 to 2005, including Red Sorghum, a "cross-cultural threnody," which caused a bit of controversy during its time, and Riding Alone for Thousands of Miles. Using these scenarios, Larson sets the stage for debate on the treatment of culture in the Red Trilogy by opening up questions about postcolonial China and Eurocentrism and by prompting readers to study further. Her analysis views Hero, a movie that has been described as a fascist documentary in its representation of the Chinese state, from an informed angle that counters that notion, and persuasively argues that it is a perfect fit in the development of Zhang's career as a director.

In conclusion, Wendy Larson's book intensely observes Zhang's [End Page 216] films, placing them in a larger realm and re-defining the idea of global culture. In this skillful study, Larson boldly challenges pre-existing and incorrect perceptions about the films, which have been tagged either as anti-government or anarchic. It is not surprising that this is one of the world's finest works about Zhang Yimou, since, through careful close study, it evaluates the detailed politics and culture during postsocialist China as well as its current position in the present-day world of capitalism. It is a perfect tool for individuals who are inquisitive about the politics associated with modern Asian culture.

Naji R Obaid
Arizona State University


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