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Projecting A Nation

Projecting A Nation: Chinese National Cinema Before 1949

Copyright Date: 2003
Pages: 276
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  • Book Info
    Projecting A Nation
    Book Description:

    This is the first major work on pre-1949 Chinese cinema in English. As such, it represents a major contribution to existing discussions of both Chinese cinema and national cinema, and is an indispensible basic resource for scholars interested in Chinese film history. The book analyses the wide variety of conceptions of "Chinese national cinema" between the early years of the 20th century and 1949, and contrasts these to conceptions of national cinema in Europe and China. After years of exhausting primary historical research, the author has been able to bring to light sources hitherto not widely available. The author argues that questions and debates about the status and meaning of the "national" in "Chinese national cinema" are central to any consideration of cinema during this period, and addresses the issue of Chinese nationalism as part of a complex history of cinema within the early modern Chinese nation.

    eISBN: 978-988-220-258-0
    Subjects: Anthropology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgements
    (pp. vii-viii)
    Jubin Hu
  4. 1 Chinese National Cinema: An Introduction
    (pp. 1-28)

    Over the last two decades, Chinese cinema has become the focus of intense interest in academia in both China and the West. However, most scholars have focused on cinema after 1949, the year in which the Chinese Communist Party (the CCP) won power and established the People’s Republic of China. For example, in English scholarship, Paul Clark’s classic history, Chinese Cinema: Culture and Politics Since 1949, is the major early contribution to this field of scholarship.¹ There is, however, no recent equivalent history in English for the pre-1949 period. This book not only addresses the lack of English-language scholarship in...

  5. 2 Cinema and Cultural Awareness (1896–1920)
    (pp. 29-46)

    This chapter focuses on the relationship between cinema and cultural awareness in China before the 1920s. I use the phrase “cultural awareness” rather than the more commonly used “cultural nationalism” since the latter refers to conscious cultural activities relating to nationalism. Harumi Befu defines “cultural nationalism” as something that is used to create, support and foster national integration.¹ Before the 1920s, however, Chinese filmmakers were not highly conscious of using culture (film) to serve Chinese nationalism. Ordinary Chinese audiences, another major focus of this chapter, similarly failed to see a clear link between Chinese film and Chinese nationalism.

    In the...

  6. 3 Industrial Nationalism (1921–1930)
    (pp. 47-74)

    In chapter 2, I described the initial Chinese reaction toward film as one of “cultural awareness.” That is to say, the representation of Chinese culture through film was a critical concern for both Chinese filmmakers and audiences. This does not mean that Chinese filmmakers ignored commercial considerations before the 1920s. They certainly hoped to attract audiences to their opera and spoken drama films, though these films proved to be commercial failures.¹ In fact, because Chinese film production was still at an experimental stage, the nature of cinema as a commercial enterprise was not clearly understood before the 1920s. The unexpected...

  7. 4 Class Nationalism Versus Traditionalist Nationalism (1931–1936)
    (pp. 75-114)

    This chapter focuses on two important film movements between 1931 and 1936 which were aligned politically with the two major political parties vying for power in China: the Left Wing Film Movement, led by the CCP, and the Nationalist Film Movement (minzu zhuyi dianying yundong), initiated by the KMT. Though their political ideologies were quite different, the strategies of both film movements clustered around issues of nationalism. The specific and urgent issue of the time was the threat of Japanese invasion, which provoked an intense patriotism expressed in various ways by both the Nationalists and the Communists. I therefore understand...

  8. 5 Colonial and Anti-colonial Nationalisms (1937–1945)
    (pp. 115-158)

    When the long-feared full-scale Japanese invasion of China became a reality in 1937, class nationalism and traditionalist nationalism were swiftly replaced by colonial and anti-colonial nationalisms in Chinese cinema. As the terms suggest, colonial and anti-colonial nationalisms had quite different meanings for the Chinese and the Japanese. For Chinese filmmakers and audiences, these terms were about patriotism and national identity in film related discourses. In Japanese-occupied Shanghai, for example, Chinese filmmakers’ anti-colonial nationalism was reflected in their “national conscience” (their loyalty to the Chinese nation), which was critical to their survival after the war. For Chinese filmmakers under the leadership...

  9. 6 Nationalism and Modernization (1946–1949)
    (pp. 159-190)

    The advocacy of China’s modernization was an important component of Chinese nationalism; thus, modernization became a prominent theme of Chinese cinema, particularly in the second half of the 1940s. With the end of the war, the primary concern of Chinese filmmakers became corruption within China and its potential to derail the project of the Chinese nation’s modernization, rather than foreign threats to the nation’s survival. Civil war between the KMT and the CCP erupted in China soon after the Japanese surrender, and the public’s strong nationalist unity consequently disappeared, along with Chinese cinema’s calls for national unity and national liberation....

  10. Conclusion
    (pp. 191-194)

    This book intends to open up new research possibilities and perspectives in the study of early Chinese cinema by examining the relationship between constructions of the Chinese nation and Chinese national cinema. While certain periods, topics, films and filmmakers, such as the Left Wing Film Movement, have been researched extensively by scholars, many other important aspects, including the relationship between the development of Chinese nationalism and creation of Chinese national cinema, have hardly been touched upon. This phenomenon is the result of the way that film history research in mainland China has either been equated with political evaluation of films...

  11. Notes
    (pp. 195-228)
  12. Glossary
    (pp. 229-236)
  13. Bibliography
    (pp. 237-258)
  14. Index
    (pp. 259-264)