NEW RELEASE | First in Paper
Remaking Chinese Cinema: Through the Prism of Shanghai, Hong Kong, and Hollywood
written by Yiman Wang
2013 | 232 pages
Paper | ISBN 978-0-8248-5107-1 | $27.00
Cloth | ISBN 978-0-8248-3607-8 | $49.00
“Yiman Wang establishes new paradigms for studying Chinese cinema. Tracing how films were adapted and remade across borders from the 1930s to the present, the book demonstrates the strong bonds among film industries in the Pacific rim, and especially among Chinese-speaking countries. Wang contributes to the cutting-edge field of Sinophone studies, which challenges the notion of cinemas defined by the nation-state. Wang brings rare expertise as she straddles China studies and film studies, drawing on theories of national formation and film reception. The book relies on rich archival research in China, Hong Kong, and the U.S. and should be read by all interested in the transnational circulation of words and images.” —Yomi Braester, University of Washington
Throughout the twentieth century, American filmmakers have embraced cinematic representations of China. Beginning with D.W. Griffith’s silent classic Broken Blossoms (1919) and ending with the computer-animated Kung Fu Panda (2008), author Naomi Greene explores China’s changing role in the American imagination. Taking viewers into zones that frequently resist logical expression or more orthodox historical investigation, the films suggest the welter of intense and conflicting impulses that have surrounded China. They make clear that China has often served as the very embodiment of “otherness”—a kind of yardstick or cloudy mirror of America itself. It is a mirror that reflects not only how Americans see the racial “other” but also a larger landscape of racial, sexual, and political perceptions that touch on the ways in which the nation envisions itself and its role in the world.
In the United States, the exceptional emotional charge that imbues images of China has tended to swing violently from positive to negative and back again: China has been loved and—as is generally the case today—feared. Using film to trace these dramatic fluctuations, From Fu Manchu to Kung Fu Panda relates them to the larger arc of historical and political change. Suggesting that filmic images both reflect and fuel broader social and cultural impulses, the author argues that they reveal a constant tension or dialectic between the “self” and the “other.” Significantly, with the important exception of films made by Chinese or Chinese American directors, the Chinese other is almost invariably portrayed in terms of the American self. Placed in a broader context, this ethnocentrism is related both to an ever-present sense of American exceptionalism and to a Manichean world view that perceives other countries as friends or enemies.
Greene analyzes a series of influential films, including classics like Shanghai Express (1932), The Bitter Tea of General Yen (1933), The Good Earth (1936), and Shanghai Gesture (1941); important cold war films such as The Manchurian Candidate (1962) and The Sand Pebbles (1966); and a range of contemporary films, including Chan is Missing (1982), The Wedding Banquet (1993), Kundun (1997), Mulan (1998), and Shanghai Noon (2000). The author’s consideration makes clear that while many stereotypes and racist images of the past have been largely banished from the screen, the political, cultural, and social impulses they embodied are still alive and well.
Written by Naomi Greene
2014 | 280 pages | 31 illustrations
Paper ISBN: 978-0-8248-3836-2 | $25.00
Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8248-3835-5 | $65.00
Critical Interventions Series
From melodrama to Cantonese opera, from silents to 3D animated film, Remaking Chinese Cinema: Through the Prism of Shanghai, Hong Kong, and Hollywood, by Yiman Wang, traces cross-Pacific film remaking over the last eight decades. Wang revolutionizes our understanding of Chinese cinema as national cinema. Against the diffusion model of national cinema spreading from a central point—Shanghai in the Chinese case—she argues for a multi-local process of co-constitution and reconstitution. In this spirit, Wang analyzes how southern Chinese cinema (huanan dianying) morphed into Hong Kong cinema through trans-regional and trans-national interactions that also produced a vision of Chinese cinema.
“This study of remaking in Chinese cinema is both one of the most sophisticated and insightful analyses of the remake phenomenon in general and a work that reveals a series of fascinating and hitherto occluded connections and links in Chinese-language film history. Each case study is a revelation for the reader. This rigorous and original piece of scholarship reveals, investigates and narrates forgotten connections across borders and between major filmmaking cities and in this way makes new contributions to film history. The primary readership for the work will be students and scholars of Chinese cinema, but its contribution to larger debates about transnational cinema and remaking in general should be recognized and it should find a wider readership in cinema studies, as well as in Chinese studies.” —Chris Berry, University of London
March 2013 / ISBN 978-0-8248-3607-8 / $49.00 (CLOTH)