Post-socialist regime and popular imagination in Chinese cinema in the twenty-first century : Lu Chan and his films

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Shu, Yongzhen

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Under the tensions of nationalization and globalization, mainland Chinese cinema has undergone tremendous changes in terms of industrial transformations, diversification of film language, style and genre, revenues, etc. in the new century. This is epitomized in a new surge of commercial entertainment cinema. This dissertation examines Lu Chuan and his films among this surge and as a representative of the new development of Chinese popular cinema. The study reveals a new political regime and a new popular imagination in China with its greater integration into the international system of global capitalism in in the first decade of the twenty-first century. I apply Pierre Bourdieu’s theory of the field of cultural production to explore structural transformations in the field of Chinese cinema, and trace these changes to the shaping forces in the larger fields of Chinese power and economy. This structural examination is related to the agency of individuals as cultural entrepreneurs maneuvering their way within the state system through alliance of power, capital and talent, and forming their own voices and a public space. Theories of popular cultural studies help me analyze Lu Chuan’s films as a site where different international and domestic social, political, and cultural forces contend and negotiate with each other. I also draw upon theories of film studies to illustrate Lu Chuan’s application of international film language and styles including classical Hollywood cinema and the art film in rendering Chinese socialist stories in the age of globalization. Instead of treating Lu Chuan as an auteur or artistic creator, I look into his authorship as a site of different discourses and a technique of the self, which helps him distinguish his films from others and establish his position in the field. Trauma studies provide a useful tool in discussing Chinese cinematic representations of the national trauma, the Nanjing Massacre, during different historical periods, and Chinese nation’s continuing effort in grappling with this trauma. This textual analysis is to illustrate the newest development in Chinese cinema. The purpose of this study is to demonstrate the historical transformation of Chinese society and to identify the forces that shaped Chinese cinema, which took form in a new alliance amongst power, capital, and art, and contributed to a post-socialist popular imagination in China in the first decade of the new century.




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