The Oxford History of World Cinema

By Geoffrey Nowell-Smith | Go to book overview

documentary of this kind, interviewed his classmates who were aspiring painters, photographers, writers, and drama directors. Whereas government-sponsored 35 mm. 'documentaries'were unanimously propagandistic, depending on prearranged scenes and enactments, Wu's video used few mediating devices but let the viewers directly encounter his subjects. In another video documentary, made by a 'Structure, Wave, Youth Cinema Experimental Group' and entitled I Graduated! (Wo biye le!), about six or seven students talk to the camera about love, sex, career prospects, decisions to stay or leave the country, and the impact events in Tiananmen had had on their lives and outlooks. Made between 5 and 11 July 1992, the documentary began with hand-held shots and a voice-over which told the audience that the back-door entrance was the only one unchecked by the campus police of Beijing University. As well as the interviews conducted in the student dormitories, the film incorporated hidden camera shots of the campus police's intervention, departure scenes in the train station, and ended with a view of an empty Tiananmen Square at night accompanied by a sound-track that simulated the sound of gunshots and moving tanks. The video was personal and intense; the flexible documentary format set its makers free from indirect, allegorical ways of expression as often used in studio features.

No longer able to replicate the career paths of Fifth Generation directors in getting an early start through working in smaller studios, a number of 1989 graduates of the Beijing Film Academy began the difficult tasks of independent production. By producing commercials and music videos, the young film-makers saved enough to start production. With money borrowed from friends and technical help from fellow classmates and laboratories, these young film-makers made films with an average budget of under RMB 200,000 yuan (about US $2,000). Without a studio quota, their works remained 'underground' films that could not get distributed through official channels. Among the films completed this way in 1992 were Wang Xiaoshuai's Days of Winter and Spring (Dong chun de rizi), Wu Di 's Golden Shower (Huangjin yu), and Zhang Yuan's Mama. Zhang Yuan sought international attention by entering his black and white feature Mama in about twenty film festivals. With awards from Nantes, Edinburgh, and Berlin, as well as an MTV award from the United States for a video on popular singer Cui Jian, Zhang financed part of his 1993 feature Beijing Bastards (Beijing zazhong) with a grant from the French Film Development Foundation.

As the self-described 'Sixth Generation' film-makers were scrambling around to finance their projects, the established Fourth and Fifth Generation directors continued to earn international acclaim and win overseas investment. In 1993 Chinese films swept the board at the European film festivals: Xie Fei's Woman Sesame Oil Maker (or Xianghunnu, also known as Women in the Lake of Scented Souls) won the Golden Bear award at Berlin; Zhang Yimou's Story of Qiu Ju took the Golden Lion award at Venice, and Chen Kaige's Farewell my Concubine (Bawang bieji), financed by Taiwan money, was the first Chinese film to win the Palme d'Or at Cannes. However, these award-winning films seem tame when compared to the black and white independent works breaking through from the youthful underground video and film movement.


Bergeron, Régis (1984), Le Ciníma chinois, 1943-1983.

Berry, Chris (ed.) ( 1991), Perspectives on Chinese Cinema.

Browne, Nick, Pickowicz, Paul, Sobchack, Vivian, and Yau, Esther, (eds.) ( 1994), New Chinese Cinema: Forms, Identities, Politics.

Cheng Jihua, Li Xiaobai, and Xing Zuwen ( 1963), Zhongguo dianying fazhanshi ('Histoty of the Development of Chinese Cinema'.

Chen Kaige, Zhi Wan, and Rayns, Tony ( 1989), 'King of the Children' and the New Chinese Cinema').

Clark, Paul ( 1987), Chinese Cinema: Culture and Politics since 1949.

Leyda, Jay ( 1972), Dianying: Electric Shadows.

Rayns, Tony, and Meek, Scott ( 1980), Electric Shadows. 45 Years of Chinese Cinema.

Semsel, George S. (ed.) ( 1987), Chinese Film: The State of the Art in the People's Republic.

Popular Cinema in Hong Kong


After 1949, mainland Chinese cinema came under the control of the Communists and became a state-financed propaganda arm that produced only 'socialist realist' films targeted at the 'worker -- peasant -- soldier' audience. Across the Strait in Taiwan, where no film industry had existed before 1945, cinema toiled under the Nationalist government's rigid control. Post-1949Hong Kong cinema, however, became the most prolific and vigorous among the three Chinese communities. It initially adopted the classical tradition and many of the generic conventions of Shanghai cinema, and then gradually developed its own model in a relatively free business environment with few political taboos.

The history of Hong Kong cinema after the Second


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The Oxford History of World Cinema
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Acknowledgements vii
  • Contributors ix
  • Contents xi
  • Special Features xv
  • List of Colour Illustrations xvii
  • General Introduction xix
  • 1 - Silent Cinema 1895-1930 1
  • Origins and Survival 6
  • Early Cinema 13
  • Transitional Cinema 23
  • The Hollywood Studio System 43
  • The World-Wide Spread of Cinema 53
  • The First World War and the Crisis in Europe 62
  • Tricks and Animation 71
  • Comedy 78
  • Documentary 86
  • Cinema and the Avant-Garde 95
  • Serials 105
  • French Silent Cinema 112
  • Italy- Spectacle and Melodrama 123
  • British Cinema from Hepworth to Hitchcock 130
  • Germany- The Weimar Years 136
  • The Scandinavian Style 151
  • Pre-Revolutionary Russia 159
  • The Soviet Union and the Russian émigrés 162
  • Yiddish Cinema in Europe 174
  • Japan- Before the Great Kanto Earthquake 177
  • Music and the Silent Film 183
  • The Heyday of the Silents 192
  • 2 - Sound Cinema 1930-1960 205
  • The Introduction of Sound 211
  • Hollywood- The Triumph of the Studio System 220
  • Censorship and Self-Regulation 235
  • The Sound of Music 248
  • Technology and Innovation 259
  • Animation 267
  • Cinema and Genre 276
  • The Western 286
  • The Musical 294
  • Crime Movies 304
  • The Fantastic 312
  • Documentary 322
  • Socialism, Fascism, and Democracy 333
  • The Popular Art of French Cinema 344
  • Italy from Fascism to Neo-Realism 353
  • Britain at the End of Empire 361
  • Germany- Nazism and after 374
  • East Central Europe before the Second World War 383
  • Soviet Film under Stalin 389
  • Indian Cinema- Origins to Independence 398
  • China before 1949 409
  • The Classical Cinema in Japan 413
  • The Emergence of Australian Film 422
  • Cinema in Latin America 427
  • After the War 436
  • Transformation of the Hollywood System 443
  • Independents and Mavericks 451
  • 3 - The Modern Cinema 1960-1995 461
  • Television and the Film Industry 466
  • The New Hollywood 475
  • New Technologies 483
  • Sex and Sensation 490
  • The Black Presence in American Cinema 497
  • Exploitation and the Mainstream 509
  • Dreams and Nightmares in the Hollywood Blockbuster 516
  • Cinéma-Vérité and the New Documentary 527
  • Avant-Garde Film- The Second Wave 537
  • Animation in the Post-Industrial Era 551
  • Modern Film Music 558
  • Art Cinema 567
  • New Directions in French Cinema 576
  • Italy- Auteurs and after 586
  • Spain after Franco 596
  • British Cinema- The Search for Identity 604
  • The New German Cinema 614
  • East Germany- The Defa Story 627
  • Changing States in East Central Europe 632
  • Russia after the Thaw 640
  • Cinema in the Soviet Republics 651
  • Turkish Cinema 656
  • The Arab World 661
  • The Cinemas of Sub-Saharan Africa 667
  • Iranian Cinema 672
  • India- Filming the Nation 678
  • Indonesian Cinema 690
  • China after the Revolution 693
  • Popular Cinema in Hong Kong 704
  • Taiwanese New Cinema 711
  • The Modernization of Japanese Film 714
  • New Australian Cinema 722
  • New Zealand Cinema 731
  • Canadian Cinema/Cinéma Canadien 731
  • New Cinemas in Latin America 740
  • New Concepts of Cinema 750
  • The Resurgence of Cinema 759
  • Index 785
  • List of Picture Sources 823


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