Sentimental Fabulations, Contemporary Chinese Films

Sentimental Fabulations, Contemporary Chinese Films

Attachment in the Age of Global Visibility

  • Author: Chow, Rey
  • Publisher: Columbia University Press
  • Serie: Film and Culture Series
  • ISBN: 9780231133326
  • eISBN Pdf: 9780231508193
  • Place of publication:  New York , United States
  • Year of digital publication: 2007
  • Month: March
  • Language: English
What is the sentimental? How can we understand it by way of the visual and narrative modes of signification specific to cinema and through the manners of social interaction and collective imagining specific to a particular culture in transition? What can the sentimental tell us about the precarious foundations of human coexistence in this age of globalization?

Rey Chow explores these questions through nine contemporary Chinese directors (Chen Kaige, Wong Kar-wai, Zhang Yimou, Ann Hui, Peter Chan, Wayne Wang, Ang Lee, Li Yang, and Tsai Ming-liang) whose accomplishments have become historic events in world cinema. Approaching their works from multiple perspectives, including the question of origins, nostalgia, the everyday, feminine "psychic interiority," commodification, biopolitics, migration, education, homosexuality, kinship, and incest, and concluding with an account of the Chinese films' epistemic affinity with the Hollywood blockbuster Brokeback Mountain, Chow proposes that the sentimental is a discursive constellation traversing affect, time, identity, and social mores, a constellation whose contours tends to morph under different historical circumstances and in different genres and media. In contemporary Chinese films, she argues, the sentimental consistently takes the form not of revolution but of compromise, not of radical departure but of moderation, endurance, and accommodation. By naming these films sentimental fabulations—screen artifacts of cultural becoming with irreducible aesthetic, conceptual, and speculative logics of their own—Chow presents Chinese cinema first and foremost as an invitation to the pleasures and challenges of critical thinking.
  • Contents
  • Preface and Acknowledgments
  • Note on Transcription
  • Introduction
  • Part I: Remembrance of Things Past
    • 1 The Seductions of Homecoming: Temptress Moon and the Question of Origins
    • 2 Nostalgia of the New Wave: Romance, Domesticity, and the Longing for Oneness in Happy Together
    • 3 The Everyday in The Road Home and In the Mood for Love: From the Legacy of Socialism to the Potency of Yuan
  • Part II: Migrants' Lore, Women's Options
    • 4 Autumn Hearts: Filming Feminine “Psychic Interiority” in Song of the Exile
    • 5 By Way of Mass Commodities: Love in Comrades, Almost a Love Story
    • 6 All Chinese Families Are Alike: Biopolitics in Eat a Bowl of Tea and The Wedding Banquet
  • Part III: Picturing the Life to Come . . .
    • 7 The Political Economy of Vision in Happy Times and Not One Less; or, A Different Type of Migration
    • 8 “Human” in the Age of Disposable People: The Ambiguous Import of Kinship and Education in Blind Shaft
    • 9 The Enigma of Incest and the Staging of Kinship Family Remains in The River
    • Postscript (Inspired by Brokeback Mountain): “The Juice”; or, “The Great Chinese Theme
  • Notes
  • Index


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