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TitleContemporary World Cinema: Europe, the Middle East, East Asia and South Asia
ISBN 139780748617999
CategoryArts - Film
File Size5.8 MB
Total Pages203
Table of Contents
European Cinema
Scandinavian Cinema
Middle Eastern Cinema
Iranian Cinema
East Asian Cinema
Hong Kong Cinema
South Asian Cinema
Indian Cinema
Document Text Contents
Page 1

Contemporary World Cinema

Europe, The Middle East, East Asia and South Asia

Shohini Chaudhuri

Edinburgh University Press

Page 2

© Shohini Chaudhuri, 2005

Edinburgh University Press Ltd
22 George Square, Edinburgh

Reprinted 2007 (three times)

Typeset in Monotype Ehrhardt by
Servis Filmsetting Ltd, Manchester and
printed and bound in Great Britain by
Antony Rowe Ltd, Chippenham, Wilts

A QP record for this book is available from the British Library

ISBN 0 7486 1798 1 (hardback)
ISBN 0 7486 1799 X (paperback)

The right of Shohini Chaudhuri to be identified as author of this work has been asserted
in accordance with the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988.

Page 101


of the June 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre, when the army killed hun­
dreds of students and workers demonstrating for democratic reforms.
Although most Fifth Generation films were made with permits, many of
them were temporarily banned.

As a condition of China's entry into the World Trade Organisation, the
annual import quota on foreign films was raised from ten to twenty films.
The increasing success of Hollywood imports has been a setback for the
local industry, compounding the drastically falling cinema attendances
occasioned by VCD piracy, cable and satellite, increased leisure options,
the breakdown of state distribution and haphazard production schedules
due to censorship bureaucracy

Increasingly, Fifth Generation filmmakers have relied on foreign
investment. While some have hailed them for creating a truly 'trans­
national' cinema, shaped and determined by myriad global socio-cultural
and economic forces, others believe that the need to make films com­
mercially acceptable to foreign financiers and audiences has made it
harder to be stylistically and thematically adventurous - a line of attack
particularly aimed at Zhang Yimou's films. With their sensuous, colour-
saturated mise en scene, victimised heroines played by Gong Li (who
became the most famous Chinese actress worldwide as a result of these
performances and her off-screen love affair with Zhang) and allegedly
'invented' feudal rituals (such as the lighting of lanterns in Raise the Red
Lantern), Zhang's films are said to pander to Orientalist tastes.
Contesting this kind of critical reception, Rey Chow proposes that they
might be better understood in terms of a self-reflexive or 'autoethno-
graphic' gaze.8 Ethnography is a sociological methodology, involving the
mapping of a regional group's social practices and customs, tradition­
ally undertaken by colonial or 'Western' outsiders. Chow suggests that
filmmakers like Zhang Yimou have undertaken the role of 'autoethnog-
raphers', allowing the Chinese to gaze at themselves at the moment of
their international emergence.

Zhang's filmmaking strategies have constantly shifted according to
changing filmmaking pressures in globalising China. Since The Story of
Qiu Jfuy which made him the 'toast' of the Beijing authorities with his
favourable portrait of officials and led to the lifting of bans on his other
films, Zhang has been seeking to avoid bans in order to enter the now
openly commercial arena of film-going in China.9 In The Road Home, the
debut for Gong Li's successor Zhang Ziyi - shortly afterwards to be cata­
pulted to international stardom with Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
(2000) (see Chapter 6) - Zhang provides a self-reflexive comment on rela­
tions between American and Chinese films in the global market, carefully

Page 102


framing posters of Titanic^ China's most popular film import, hanging on
two facing walls in a North China village.

With his next film, Hero (2002), Zhang outperformed Titanic at the
Chinese box office and in August 2004 reached number one in the USA. A
martial-arts epic in Crouching Tiger's mould and starring Hong Kong
actors Jet Li, Tony Leung and Maggie Cheung alongside Zhang Ziyi, Hero
is the most expensive Chinese film to date and heralds a new breed of film
- the Chinese blockbuster - and yet another new direction for its director.
In RashomonAxkt fashion, it retells the story of four assassins' failed
attempts on the life of the King of Qjn from different perspectives - finally,
from the king's own perspective. In breathtaking fight scenes, combatants
dressed in lushly coloured, flowing robes fly through the air like calli-
graphic flourishes. Their swords trail in lakes like ink-brushes, extending
an analogy between calligraphy and swordplay. Like Zhang's former films,
Hero has come under attack from critics arguing that the film's prettified
landscapes and martial-arts choreography serve up an eminently export-
able Orientalist fantasy, while its narrative gives implicit ideological
endorsement to China's ambitions to unify regional territories, as the his-
torical King Qjn did in 221BC, when China was divided into different king-
doms - a matter that alarms audiences in post-handover Hong Kong and
Taiwan.10 Chosen as China's 2002 Oscar entry, there is no doubt that the
film pleased Chinese authorities; yet, from another view, the film might be
seen as Zhang's ambivalent response both to the demands of censorship
and to the global challenge of Hollywood, an allegory not only of how all
narration is necessarily subjective, but also of how all narratives are shaped
by contingencies of power.

Chinese Sixth Generation and Beyond

In contrast to the Fifth Generation, the directors who graduated from film
schools as part of the Sixth Generation - Zhang Yuan, Wang Xiaoshuai,
Emily Tang, Li Yu, Jia Zhangke and others - tend to favour urban, con-
temporary stories, focusing on ordinary characters (usually alienated, dis-
affected youths), using a realist 'stream of life' style rather than
melodrama, often giving the feeling that characters are 'trapped in an
intense present'.11 These directors make underground films on low
budgets, outside the official studio system. As a result, their films are con-
sidered 'illegal', and few have been publicly screened in China to date. Like
Fifth Generation directors, they seek private funding, but they depend
even more on networking and winning prizes at international festivals to
obtain distribution and secure funding for subsequent films. Even though

Page 202


Talk (1997), 51
Talk to Her (2002), 26
Tamil Nadu, 149
Tamils, 150-1,162
Tang, Emily, 98
Tanovic, Danis, 32,83
Tarantino, Quentin, 23,60,105,115
A Taste of Cherry (1997), 76,78
Tati, Jacques, 63
Tears (2000), 110
Tears of the Black Tiger (2000), 109-10
technology, 3,107
television, 9-10,17-18,29,39-40,146,

159; see also satellite television
Ten (2002), 75,76,78
Termtnator (1984), 104
terrorism, 26, 89,150,158,162,171-3
The Terrorist (1999), 150,158
Tetsuo (1988), 106
Thackeray, Bal, 163
Thailand, 4, 5,107,108-10
Tharani, Thotta, 161
Thatcher, Margaret, 18,20
Third Cinema, 11-12, 57,60,146
Third Page (2000), 68
36 Chowringhee Lane (1981), 148
Three Colours trilogy (1993-4), 27
Through the Olive Trees (1994), 71,77,

84̂ -6
Tiananmen Square massacre (1989), 97,

Tie Me Up! Tie Me Dorm! (1990), 26
Tiger economies, 93-4
A Time for Drunken Horses (2000), 74,83
Time of Love (1990), &0
Time of the Gypsies (1988), 30
Timeless, Bottomless Bad Movie (1998), 110
Titanic (1997), 1,40,98,109,113,139,

Tito, 29-30,31
Tlatli, Moufida, 65,66-7
To Live (1994), 96,101
Together (2000), 40,41, 50-2
Tomorrow Never Dies (1997), 124
Toprak, Mehmet Emin, 69
A Touch of Zen (1969), 115,117,133
traditionalism, 19, 56,68,156-7
Trainspotting (1996), 15, 20
Trier, Lars von, 34, 37,38, 39-40,45-7
Trintignant, Jean-Louis, 27
Truffaut, Francois, 123
Truly Human (2001), 37
Tsai Ming Liang, 102,123


Tsui Hark, 119,120,124,125
Tsukamoto, Shinya, 106
Tunisian cinema, 55,64-7
Turkey, 5, 55,65,67-9
Twentieth Century Fox, 4
2046 (2004), 129,130
24 Hour Party People (2002), 20
2499 Antaparn Krong Muang (1997), 108
Two Women (\999)y14y 76
Tykwer, Tom, 23,27

Ullman, Liv, 42
Unaroo (1984), 161
Underground (1995), 30-1
underground cinema, 98,110,152
Unishe April (1994), 148
United States, 3,4, 55,71,72; see also

Unknown Pleasures (2002), 99 S\
Until the End of the World (1991), 23
Utsab (2000), 148
Uttara (2000), 146 /
Uzak (2003), 68 /

Vanaprastham (1999), 146
Varma, Ram Gopal, 149
veiling, 72,73,74-5,78,81-2,84
Venice Film Festival, 6,100,105
Vertigo (1958), 99
video games, 94
video piracy, 5,97,115,143
Videodrome (19*3), \My 107
videos, 5,10,21,73,89,106,143-4,159,

Vietnam refugees, 120
Vietnam war films, 15,31
Vincendeau, Ginette, 22
Vinterberg, Thomas, 34,37,47-50

cinema du look, 21
East Asian cinema, 94
in Korean cinema, 111
neo-noir, 22-3
sexual, 164-5

Vithange, Prasanna, 150,151
von Trier, Lars see Trier, Lars von
voyeurism, 45-7

Wajda, Andrzej, 26
Walls Within (1997), 151
Wang Xiaoshuai, 98
Waqt (1965), 159
war films, 15,29-32,31,43,140

Page 203


War of Israeli Independence (1948), 61
Water (2004), 166
Watson, Emily, 45,46
The Wedding Banquet (1993), 133
Wedding in Galilee (1987), 63
Welcome to Sarajevo (1997), 30
Wenders, Wim, 23
West Beirut (1998), 60
Where Is the Friend's Home? (1987), 76,77

White (1994), 27
The White Balloon (1995), 78-9
widowhood, 166
Wiener, Steve, 5
Wilbur Wants to Kill Himself '(2002), 39
Wimalaweera, Sirisena, 150
The Wind Will Carry Us (1999), 76,77
Wing Chun (1994), 118
Wings of Desire (1987), 23,24
Wmgs of Glass (2000), 42
Wings of the Dove (1997), 17
Wisit Sasanatieng, 109

in anime, 104-5
directors, 18,20,26,37,42,60,66,75,


Iranian cinema, 74-6,78
and Islam, 72,73,74-5,78,81-2,84,

in Japanese cinema, 108
and John Woo films, 128
in Korean cinema, 111,113
in martial-arts film, 134
Middle East, 56
oppression of, 57,62,66,82,84,146-7

see also under individual names

WoneKar-WaL 120.122-4.129-30.132

Wong Wing-Heng, 126
Woo, John, 23,112,118-19,124,125

Hard-Boiled, 119,125,126-9
WTO (World Trade Organisation), 97,

Wu Tianming, 96
muxia pian see martial-arts film, 117

xenophobia, 19-20,48

yakuza films, 105-6,108
Yang, Edward, 100,101-2
Yang + Yin: Gender in Chinese Cinema

(1996), 119,121
Yeh DilAap Ka Huwa (2002), 152
Yeoh, Michelle, 118,124,132,133
Yi Yi: A One and A Two (2000), 101-2
Yol( 1982), 67-8
Yom Yom (1999), 62
Yongyooth Thongkonthun, 109
Young Soul Rebels (\99\)y IS
youth films, 94,99,106-7,110,124
Yuen Woo-Ping, 117,118,124,125,133,

Yugoslavia, 29-32,163
Yun-Fat, Chow, 119,124,125,126,132,


Zanussi, Krzysztof, 26
Zentropa (film company), 39,41
Zhang Yimou, 97-8
Zhang Yuan, 98,99
Zhang Ziyi, 97-8,133
Zhangke, Jia, 98,99
Zionism, 61-2
Zizek, Slavoj, 31,46
Zu: Warriors of the Magic Mountain

(1983), 120
Zubeidaa (2000), 147

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