6 Screening Sinology

On the Western study of Chinese film

If there is one thing that rivals the importance of the 1989 Tiananmen protests as a watershed in global, Western understandings of China, it would have to be the international success of mainland Chinese film, from the now-classic “fifth generation” films onwards. It is as if these celluloid representations were a welcome herald of good tidings; having sloughed off the grey-blue dreariness of the Mao years, China was finally on the right, modern and liberal-artistic path.1 From Maoism to the market to M.O.M.A. Indeed, after the “Tank Man” of 1989, the predominant image of China in the Western mind would have to be not a televisual but a cinematic one, from close-ups of Gong Li or Zhang ...

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