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China on Screen

Cinema and Nation

Chris Berry ,Mary Farquhar

Publication Year: 2006

The book, Chris Berry and Mary Farquhar, leaders in the field of Chinese film studies, explore more than one hundred years of Chinese cinema and nation. Providing new perspectives on key movements, themes, and filmmakers, Berry and Farquhar analyze the films of a variety of directors and actors, including Chen Kaige, Zhang Yimou, Hou Hsiao Hsien, Bruce Lee, Jackie Chan, Maggie Cheung, Gong Li, Wong Kar-wai, and Ang Lee.

Published by: Hong Kong University Press, HKU


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pp. v

List of Illustrations

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pp. vii-viii

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pp. ix-xi

Without the support of various funding bodies, this project would not have gotten off the ground. We are grateful to the Australian Research Council, which supported our work with a three-year Large Grant; and to the Chiang Ching-Kuo Foundation, which supported our research in Taiwan. Mary Farquhar's preliminary work on the project was also supported by the Griffith University Research Grant Scheme. ...

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A Note on Translation and Romanization

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pp. xiii

This book uses the pinyin system for romanizing Chinese characters unless common usage makes an alternative more familiar and therefore user-friendly. Regarding film titles, there are many different ways of translating Chinese film titles into English and many different ways of romanizing Chinese characters into Latin letters. In this book, we have decided not to include any Chinese characters in the main body of the text. For film titles, we have used the English export titles of the films wherever they are known. ...

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1. Introduction: Cinema and the National

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pp. 1-16

Jackie Chan's 1994 global breakthrough film Rumble in the Bronx is a dislocating experience in more ways than one. This is not just because of the gravity-defying action, or because Jackie is far from his familiar Hong Kong. Set in New York but shot in Vancouver, the film shows a Rocky Mountain backdrop looming between skyscrapers where suburban flatlands should be. The film also marks a watershed in Chan's efforts to transform himself from Hong Kong star to global superstar and his character from local cop to transnational cop. ...

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2. Time and the National: History, Historiology, Haunting

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pp. 17-46

In the Mood for Love (2000) is Wong Kar-wai's tale of infidelity and frustration among the Shanghai emigres of 1960s Hong Kong. It ends at Angkor Wat in Cambodia, where Mr. Chow hides his secret by whispering it into a crevice in the ruins. He is a journalist, and the transition to Cambodia is marked by what looks like documentary footage of the visit of French president General Charles de Gaulle. We discuss In the Mood for Love again at the end of this chapter, and in particular the evocative image of history as a secret hidden in the ruins. ...

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3. Operatic Modes: Opera film, Martial Arts, and Cultural Nationalism

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pp. 47-74

Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon (2000) is a blockbuster that defies generic labels. According to the director, Ang Lee, it belongs to the Hong Kong martial arts genre. But Lee also calls the film a Daoist Sense and Sensibility that tries to recapture his favorite operatic romance as a boy in Taiwan. It blends Chinese and Western melodrama, psychological realism, and martial arts.1 At the end of this chapter we return to Crouching Tiger in more detail, commenting on the particular rhythm of many Chinese films. ...

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4. Realist Modes: Melodrama, Modernity, and Home

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pp. 75-107

Yellow Earth (1984) is one of the most famous Chinese films. While it is not usually considered a realist work, we argue later in this chapter that it is a reflection on the Chinese nation that belongs to a realist lineage in two ways. Stylistically, it generates new standards of realism at a time when socialist realism had lost its credibility. Visually, as with all the other films we examine here, it also imagines the national through the family and home. ...

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5. How Should a Chinese Woman Look?: Woman and Nation

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pp. 108-134

During the production of Stanley Kwan's 1991 film Center Stage, an interesting casting incident made the news pages in Hong Kong and also highlighted the importance of star image in the cinema. Anita Mui had been cast to star in the biopic about ever-suffering 1930s Shanghai film star Ruan Lingyu. Critics had often seen Ruan as a metaphor for China itself, suffering under semicolonialism, semifeudalism, and Japanese invasion in the 1930s. ...

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6. How Should Chinese Men Act?: Ordering the Nation

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pp. 135-168

In 2002, Chinese audiences and Party leaders flocked to see Zhang Yimou's Hero, which broke box office records around the country. Hero tells of the founding of the Chinese empire in the Qin dynasty (221-207 b.c), complete with maps of neighboring states yet to be conquered and brought within its borders. While the film is a historical martial arts epic, many contemporaries, including China's leaders, read it as an affirmation of the modern, territorial, and unified nation-state. ...

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7. Where Do You Draw the Line?: Ethnicity in Chinese Cinemas

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pp. 169-194

Ang Lee's breakthrough hit, The Wedding Banquet (1993), is usually understood as a gay comedy. In fact, it is crucial that the lead characters' relationship is not only same-gender but also interracial. In case there is any doubt that both race and sexuality could be a problem for Wai-tung's parents, a prospective bride sent from Taiwan by his mother underlines the point. When Wai-tung is forced to reveal his situation to his potential wife, she understands completely: she has only gone along with the charade because, just like him, she dare not tell her parents she has a white boyfriend. ...

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8. The National in the Transnational

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pp. 195-222

In Chapter 1, we noted that the idea of "national cinemas" has given way to "transnational film studies." However, instead of following the rush to abandon the national altogether, we asked what happens to the national in transnational film studies. We called for the final abandonment of the old national cinemas model, which assumed nation-states were stable and coherent and that films expressed singular national identity. ...


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pp. 223-232


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pp. 233-263

European-language Bibliography

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pp. 265-285

Chinese-Language Bibliography

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pp. 287- 291

Chinese Film List

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pp. 293-299


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pp. 301-313

E-ISBN-13: 9789882206045
Print-ISBN-13: 9789622098060

Page Count: 330
Publication Year: 2006