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Week 2

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Kate Taylor-Jones

on 7 October 2016

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Transcript of Week 2

What is a nation?
Get into two groups.
You have 20 mins to create a nation. You must have
1. a national flag (that reflects your nations ideals) and a national symbol (think British bulldog, French Marianne etc.)
2. 2 key 'founding narratives' ie. our nation was build upon x traveling to y and founding the nation, our nation believes that chocolate digestives are given to us from God and that makes us special compared to all other nations etc.
3. two 'traditions' (ie. eat pink yoghurt on thursday)
4. Now....what does your media look like? If is censored? totally free? state-run? do you believe in using the media to cement your national narratives? What type of films/tv shows do you want your nation to be famous for?
Media and Nation
Week 2
Workshop: Genre, aesthetics, politics and stardom: media and nation.
Screening: Hero (Yimou, 2002)

Andrew Higson (2000) ‘The limiting imagination of national cinema’ in Mette Hjort and
Scott Mackenzie, Cinema and Nation, London: Routeldge.

Gary Rawnsley (2011) ‘The political narrative (s) of hero’ in Gary Rawnsley and Mingyeh
Rawnsley (ed) Global Chinese Cinema: the culture and politics of Hero, London and New
York: Routledge.
5th Generation and the rise of Zhang Yimou
Beginning in the mid-late 1980s, the rise of the so-called Fifth Generation of Chinese filmmakers brought increased popularity of Chinese cinema abroad.

Benedict Anderson "Imagined Communities"
Cinema and Nation

The nation is imagined as limited because even the largest of them, encompassing perhaps a billion living human beings, has finite, if elastic, boundaries, beyond which lie other nations; No nation imagines itself coterminous with mankind. The most messianic nationalists do not dream of a day when all the members of the human race will join their nation in the way that it was possible, in certain epochs, for, say, Christians to dream of a wholly Christian planet.

It is imagined as sovereign because the concept was born in an age in which Enlightenment and Revolution were destroying the legitimacy of the divinely- ordained, hierarchical dynastic realm. Coming to maturity at a stage of human history when even the most devout adherents of any universal religion were inescapably confronted with the living pluralism of such religions, and the allomorphism between each faith's ontological claims and territorial stretch, nations dream of being free, and, if under God, directly so. The gage and emblem of this freedom is the sovereign state.

Finally, it is imagined as a community, because, regardless of the actual inequality and exploitation that may prevail in each, the nation is always conceived as a deep, horizontal comradeship. Ultimately it is this fraternity that makes it possible, over the past two centuries, for so many millions of people, not so much to kill, as willingly to die for such limited imaginings. (Anderson)

My point of departure is that nationality, or, as one might prefer to put it in view of that word's multiple significations, nation-ness, as well as nationalism, are cultural artefacts of a particular kind. To understand them properly we need to consider carefully how they have come into historical being, in what ways their meanings have changed over time, and why, today, they command such profound emotional legitimacy. I will be trying to argue that the creation of these artefacts towards the end of the eighteenth century was the spontaneous distillation of a complex 'crossing' of discrete historical forces; but that, once created, they became 'modular', capable of being transplanted, with varying degrees of self-consciousness, to a great variety of social terrains, to merge and be merged with a correspondingly wide variety of political and ideological constellations. I will also attempt to show why these particular cultural artefacts have aroused such deep attachments.
What is a national cinema? (Susan Hayward, 1993:1)
"nationhood thus answers to a felt need for a rooted, bounded, whole and authentic identity" (Morley and Robbins, 1990: 19).

The public sphere of the nation and the discources of patriotism are thus bound up in a constant struggle to transform facts of dispersal, variegation and homelessness into the experiance of a rooted community. At times, the experience of an organic, coherent national community, a meaningful national collectivity, will be overwhelming.
At other times, the experience of diaspora, dislocation and de-centeredness will prevail. It is in times such as these that other allegiances, other senses of belonging beside the national will be felt more strongly felt (Higson, 59)
So why use 'Nationhood' as a marker?

Finance - government supported notional 'film culture' (or indeed any other media culture think about the Korean governments investment in the Korean Games industry) is desired especially as a method to fight back against Hollywood domination.

Allows you to operate on the global stage under a r
ecognizable banner
(ie. film festivals, fans sites etc.)

SOFT POWER - playing USA at its own game.

However, do you just get stereotypes reflected back at you? OR just the image of the nation the ruling parties wish us to see? OR just the image that the dissenters want us to see?

In short, can you ever visualise a nation? Also, think about the audiance...who? why? where?
4 Prominences: Jiang Qing (May 1968)

Designed to ‘give prominence to positive characters, to heroes among the positive characters, to the principle hero among the heroes’.

In frame composition the hero must be located in the centre and the villain at the edges. In proportions , the hero must appear large and the villain small. In colour scheme the hero must be bathed in warm light and the villain in cold tones In lighting the hero must be bright and the villain dark.
Extremely diverse in style and subject, the Fifth Generation directors' films ranged from black comedy (Huang Jianxin's The Black Cannon Incident, 1985), to drama to the esoteric (Chen Kaige's Life on a String, 1991), but they share a common rejection of the socialist-realist tradition worked by earlier Chinese filmmakers.

Gender play a BIG role! As does debating history, culture and tradition.

Notable Fifth Generation directors include Wu Ziniu, Hu Mei, Zhang Yimou, Chen Kaige, Tian Zhanugzhuang and Zhou Xiaowen.
the films showed a "Cultural identity that the current Chinese public are reluctant to identify, and keep at arms length" [ie. the films focused on the disposed and the victimized, those who had suffered under the cultural revolution etc]
and have received aclaim abroad as 'cinematic representation of Chinese Culture'
(Wang Yuejin - Chinese Film Critic)

They broke and developed new cinematic codes.

Transforming History into spectacle.

shot type
star bodies (Gong Li)

go to 29.17.
questions: what images given here? Compare them to Hero? Have you seen any films of the 5th Generation? If you are Chinese (50% of the class are! Have you any recollections of these works or do you only know the directors later and officially sanctioned works? (age may play a factor here...)
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