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The Cinema of Feng Xiaogang

The Cinema of Feng Xiaogang: Commercialization and Censorship in Chinese Cinema after 1989

Rui Zhang
Copyright Date: 2008
Pages: 204
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  • Book Info
    The Cinema of Feng Xiaogang
    Book Description:

    Beginning first as a case study of Feng Xiaogang, this book explores Chinese film history since the early 1990s in terms of changes of the Communist Party's film policy, industry reforms, the official promotion of Main Melody films and the emergence and growth of popular cinema. The image of Feng that will emerge in this book is of a filmmaker working under political and economic pressures in a post-socialist state while still striving to create works with a personal socio-political agenda. In keeping with this reality, this book approaches Feng as a special kind of film auteur whose works must be interpreted with attention to the specific social and political context of contemporary China. The book will be a useful reference tool for students and scholars in the fields of Chinese studies, Chinese film history and film studies. It could also be used as textbook for classes about Asian cinema, international cinema and Chinese culture/film studies. The extensive use of data about the Chinese film market, and elaborate analysis of the situation of Chinese film industry make this book a valuable volume for classroom and personal use.

    eISBN: 978-988-8052-86-8
    Subjects: Anthropology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. 1 Introduction
    (pp. 1-20)

    Since Party A, Party B (Jiafang yifang, 1997), Be There or Be Square (Bujian busan, 1998) and Sorry Baby! (Meiwan meiliao, 1999), a series of lighthearted romance comedy films released for the New Year holidays, to his recent film, The Banquet (Ye yan, 2006), a court-drama dealing with more serious themes such as desire and power struggle, Chinese film critics and audiences have been impressed by Feng Xiaogang’s ability to make highly profitable films. Some of his films are so popular with moviegoers that they have even surpassed imported Hollywood blockbusters at the box office. So, it is perhaps easy...

  5. 2 Chinese Cinema on the Eve of the Tian’anmen Incident
    (pp. 21-32)

    Because the evolution of Feng’s career has been heavily influenced and even determined by the changing face of Chinese cinema since the late 1980s, it is important to provide an introduction to the general situation of Chinese cinema in the late 1980s. Although the 1980s ended violently with the Tian’anmen Incident, this did not mean that films made before the Tian’anmen Incident did not cast any influence on Chinese contemporary cinema. In fact, many of the trends in the 1980s foreshadowed the direction the industry would take in the 1990s. For example, the flourishing of entertainment films in the middle...

  6. 3 Chinese Cinema from 1989 to the Middle of the 1990s and Feng Xiaogang’s Early Career
    (pp. 33-62)

    After the Tian’anmen Incident on June 4, 1989, the Party both strengthened its control over ideology and began to promote a new round of economic reform. The concurrent resurrection of conservative film policy and deepening of industry reform meant that private film production companies were least trusted by film authorities because of the non-political subject matter of their films, but were seen by the film industry as the greatest potential force for sustaining the profitability of Chinese cinema. The first half of the 1990s was the formative stage of Feng’s filmmaking career: he started to write scripts for movies and...

  7. 4 New Year Films and Chinese Cinema at the End of the 1990s
    (pp. 63-102)

    The emergence of New Year films in 1996 was accompanied by the growing importance of private film production companies. This can be explained by transformations in the Chinese film industry brought about by industry reform, and changes in official film policy linked to the government’s ambivalent attitude toward the function of the cinema—cinema was viewed as both a profitable business that should develop according to market demand, and a pedagogical tool that should be controlled by the Party in order to propagate official ideology and a positive Party image. The formation and increasing popularity of this genre can be...

  8. 5 The “Corporate Era” of Chinese Cinema in the New Millennium and Feng’s Post-New Year Productions
    (pp. 103-152)

    The new millennium has been a promising yet challenging time for Chinese cinema. The two forces that drove Chinese filmmaking in the 1990s—the ubiquitous ideological surveillance of ideology and the invasion of Hollywood cinema—have been, in many ways, transformed. The arbitrary decisions of the former were replaced by a more systematic film legislation while Hollywood cinema has gradually lost its predominance due to the pervasiveness of cheap pirated versions and the emergence of domestic blockbusters. Yet, despite these seemingly positive changes, the film industry has been under increasing pressure to maximize profits due to the rapid development of...

  9. 6 Conclusion
    (pp. 153-158)

    Due to the constant social, economic, and political transformations still underway in contemporary China, as well as my own close association with the era, the difficulty of concluding a study of contemporary cinema and of one of its most active filmmakers is obvious. The rapid changes preclude any easy predictions of the future, and my own involvement makes it almost impossible to adopt a transcendent, historicizing perspective. Feng’s filmmaking activities in the new millennium have shown such great diversity that it is impossible to accurately predict the future of his cinema. Though clearly proud of his contributions to a national...

  10. Notes
    (pp. 159-176)
  11. Filmography
    (pp. 177-180)
  12. Selected Bibliography
    (pp. 181-191)
  13. Index
    (pp. 193-196)