Week 2-1 Yingjin Zhang, A Centennial Review of Chinese Cinema, Part I

Week 2-1 Yingjin Zhang, A Centennial Review of Chinese Cinema, Part I

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http://chinesecinema.ucsd.edu/essay_ccwlc.html A Centennial Review of Chinese Cinema Yingjin Zhang Introduction: Chinese Cinema Since its first attempt at short feature with Conquering Jun Mountain (1905) in Beijing during the final years of China's last dynasty, Chinese cinema has gone a long way to reach its present status as a significant player in international cinema. Like its counterparts elsewhere in the world, Chinese cinema started with fascination with new visual technology, developed from a cluster of family businesses to a market of competing studios and theaters, survived war devastation and government interference, and has enriched cinematic arts with ingenious narrative and visual inventions. Now near its own centennial celebration, Chinese cinema has regularly received top awards at international film festivals, and the phenomenal success of Ang Lee's Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (1999) is just one example. But Ang Lee's film, a coproduction of the U. S. China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan, raises a question: what is meant by "Chinese cinema" in the era of globalization? Addressing this discussion elsewhere, I would remind the reader that in current academic practice "Chinese cinema" includes films produced in mainland China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan, as well as those in the Chinese language or dialogue directed by the Chinese diaspora if "transnational" is added to the term. Ideally, a centennial review of Chinese cinema should include all these aspects, but the limited space allocated to this essay allows for only a consideration of the mainland production in the twentieth century, leaving interested readers to pursue Hong Kong and Taiwan cinemas elsewhere. Since the majority of recent surveys of Chinese cinema have covered areas of politics and aesthetics (as referenced in the notes throughout this essay), I will focus more on industry and mention arts, ideology, and politics along the way, thus implementing a slightly different perspective in this essay. Early Cinema: Exhibition and Production, 1890s-1920s Right after its invention, cinema was introduced to China in the late 1890s by French, American, and Spanish showmen, as they rented venues such as teahouse, restaurant, theater, and skating rink to show short movies amidst Chinese variety shows or as interludes to featured operas. Old habits of theatre attendance such as chatting, eating, and drinking continued in early film exhibition, and the audience watched films as the exotic spectacles of "Western shadowplays." It was not until 1908 that a cinema exclusively for film exhibition
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This note was uploaded on 12/28/2011 for the course 165 262 taught by Professor Staff during the Spring '08 term at Rutgers.

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Week 2-1 Yingjin Zhang, A Centennial Review of Chinese Cinema, Part I

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