Celluloid China: Cinematic Encounters with Culture and Society

Celluloid China: Cinematic Encounters with Culture and Society

Celluloid China: Cinematic Encounters with Culture and Society

Celluloid China: Cinematic Encounters with Culture and Society

Synopsis

Celluloid China: Cinematic Encounters with Culture and Society by Harry H. Kuoshu is a lucid introduction to the cinema of mainland China from the early 1930s to the early 1990s.

Emphasizing both film contexts and film texts, this study invites film scholars and students to a broad cinematic analysis that includes investigations of cultural, cross-cultural, intellectual, social, ethnic, and political issues. Such a holistic evaluation allows for a better understanding of both the genesis of a special kind of film art from the People's Republic of China and the culture exemplified in those films.

The fifteen films include: Two Stage Sisters; Hibiscus Town; Farewell My Concubine; Street Angel; Three Women; Human, Woman, Demon; Judou; Girl from Hunan ; Sacrificed Youth; Horse Thief; Yellow Earth; Old Well; Red Sorghum; Black Cannon Incident; and Good Morning, Beijing.

Discussions of each film have an introduction, passages from the director's own notes whenever available, and a scholarly article. Discussion questions are found in an appendix. Within its complete bibliography, the book also features a suggested reading list for Chinese film classes.

Celluloid China: Cinematic Encounters with Culture and Society is the first book to provide such an exhaustive study of the art and cultural context of Chinese cinema.

Excerpt

he idea of writing and compiling an introductory book on Chinese film evolved during my years of teaching classes in this subject area at Reed College in Portland, Oregon, and at Northeastern University in Boston. The immediate and obvious benefit of this book for students and instructors in Chinese film is the availability of readings that they would otherwise have to seek from different books, anthologies, and journals. More importantly, this book was created with American college students in mind. It provides a teaching framework for the source materials and complements the academic and scholarly research essays with classroom activities, making all of them more accessible to college students.

In recent years, especially since the mid-1980s when Chinese Fifth Generation filmmaking began drawing increasing international attention, Chinese film studies have attracted a substantial amount of writing and translation. This body of literature makes teaching a Chinese film class both more feasible and more exciting. It enables such a class to broaden the cinematic analysis to include an investigation of cultural, cross-cultural, intellectual, social, ethnic, political, and artistic issues. This body of literature also illustrates how a film can provide distinctive samples of artistic fashion, social taste, ideological tension, cultural geography, and historical moments. In other words, Chinese film has become an ideal pedagogical subject for a cross-cultural and interdisciplinary class.

The films selected for this book were produced solely in the People's Republic of China (PRC) and do not include many important titles produced in other parts of today's Chinese-speaking world, such as Hong Kong or Taiwan. This exclusion is due by no means to prejudice but rather to a pedagogical choice to focus on films that reveal certain predominant ideological discourses, historical events, and cinematic trends that affect mostly mainland China, including the May 4th New Cultural Movement, leftist filmmaking in pre-PRC Shanghai, the cultural fad of Nora-like Chinese “new women, ” the war with Japan, the founding of the PRC, the anti-rightist campaign, the Cultural Revolution, a post-Mao cultural identity crisis (“roots-searching”), and postsocialist ideological or existential anxieties. This focus allows for a better understanding of both the genesis of a special kind of film art from the PRC

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