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Recap on last week:
Transcript of Recap on last week:
Nation may be an 'imagined community' but it still is a powerful and important tool.
Cinema is heavily influenced by discourses of nation and nationhood.
Mainland Chinese Cinema is especially concerned with the vision that her nation is giving to the world.
The work of the '5th Generation' at various times has both supported (think Hero) and confused and critiqued national identity, history and visuals (Farewell my Concubine).
Some key terms:
History and Film
Some different but interlinked ideas:
Film AS history
The history of Film
Film and history
a history film
"The present day cannot be denied or eliminated: while describing the past the author is simultaneously writing about his own world, consciously or unconsciously, implicitly or explicitly (Hannu Salmi)
what can tell us about the history of a nation?
genre and style
Do we believe films that adhere to the most established 'facts' of the past are more accurate and 'valuable' than those that seek to explore the meaning and feelings of those residing in that period?
What about the notion that history is written by the winner so many narratives are lost from official histories ie. women, children, the 'loosers', the politically unwelome and repressed.
Can film recapture the lost experiences that history books often neglect?
How do we rate films that have fictional charatures in a correct and appropriate timeline (ie. City of Sadness)
Do we just look at content or at the forms of production and reception since by examining them perhaps we can understand our own relationship to the past? History but in a different way.
'Are films reasonable and effective sources of historical evidence, or are they fleeting commercial products produced by crass businessmen with little concern for facts and reality? Are they just propaganda made obsolete by the passing of time? (Frank Manchel)
Taiwan and her key recent historical events.
1895-1945 - colonized by Japan
1947 - Kuomingtang (KMT) flee from PRC and take over Taiwan. Ruled by Chiang Kai-shek.
Feb 28: 228 incident. Citizens protest against KMT rule and over 20,000 people killed.. Tawian under martial law "White Terror" begins.
1949: KMT completely defeated in PRC. 2 million refugees flee to Taiwan.
Taiwan under Martial Law until 1987.
1971: Lost UN seat to PRC.
2005: First direct commercial flights from PRC to Taiwan takes place.
2007: applies for UN Membership under Taiwan and request is rejected.
2010: PRC and Taiwan sign a trade pact.
Currently: Taiwan is one of Asia's biggest traders (PRC No.1 export market). PRC insists countries cannot have diplomatic relations with PRC AND Taiwan so Taiwan has limited diplomatic relations. Still no seat on the UN.
Very developed with high literacy and technology rates. Great food, weather and wonderful national parks!
Mixture of both Chinese and an indigenous aboriginal population (about 2.5%). They had been resident on the island about 8000 years before the Han influx in 17th Century.
History Taiwanese Cinema
Pre 1945: Japanese occupation. Few local films made (3) most Japanese imports BUT also Chinese. Japanese sought to ensure that they were more influential that Chinese but did not suceed as Chinese films less propagandist and more entertaining!
1945-1960s: Taiwanese cinema grew again after 1949, when the end of the Chinese civil war brought many filmmakers sympathetic to the Nationalists to Taiwan. During this era, the primary films produced were Mandarin films officially sanctioned by the government. As the government was attempting to unify the country by declaring Mandarin as the official language, the use of other dialects was controlled, and non-Mandarin films (Taiwanese language films) gradually declined.
1963 - Healthy Realism films were promoted - aimed to develop healthy and correct citizens. Popular films were King-Fu and romantic melodramas!
982+ Taiwan New Wave
Young directors were promoted by the CMPC in order to offer an innovating cinema that would be able to compete with Hong Kong.
New Wave films are known for their realistic, down-to-earth, and sympathetic portrayals of Taiwanese life. Often with a ‘documentary’ style feel to them.
Innovative narrative techniques.
Key names are:
Edward Yang, Hou Hsiao-Hsien
, Tao De-chen, Ke Yi-jheng, and Jhang Yi.
Strong influence from the French New Wave Cinema Movement.
Many New Cinema films were based on famous nativist novels, which continued the tradition of adapting literary works for the screen. From 1965 to 1983, for example, a total of 50 films were adapted from the romance novels of Cyong Yao.
New Wave directors were interested not only in the plots of these novels but also in their realistic, down-to-earth style and spirit. They wanted to give a genuine local flavour to their films. Local dialects and accents were heard again on the cinema screens.
Like nativist writers, they also critically reviewed some of the central issues facing Taiwan society, such as the struggle against poverty, conflicts with political authority, and the growing pains of urbanization and industrialization.
New Cinema directors took a highly introspective approach in examining the effects of the political, social, and economic changes that Taiwan experienced over the post-war decades. Their works thus offer a fascinating chronicle of the island's social transformation in modern times.
Can be both national and transnational
Language spills over the territorial fixity of the nation -state and casts doubt on neat and east assumptions about the isomorphism of geography, culture, nation, identiy and citizenship (Lu and Yeh: 2)
Language in Chinese-Language cinema can represent unity BUT also tension and discord.
Dialect and accent - create intimacy and distance simultaneously.
Three main developments:
1. language, dialects and accents are conterminous with the realm of the nation state. "lively diversity within grand national unity (Lu and Yeh: 5)
2. Dialect creates a strong sense of regionalism and articulates ambivalence within the nation state.
3. filmic discourse expands above and beyond the level of the national to create a fluid, deterritorialised, global, pan-Chinese identity.
Please note: These are not absolutes - some films can do more than one! e.g. Hero (Zhang Yimou) confirms a vision of Chinese- Nationhood BUT is also a global pan-Chinese Identity for mass consumption. Wong Kar Wai in Hong Kong also functions in a similar way. With CIty of Sadness and many other films from Taiwan we have a mixture of dialects each seeking to do something different?
City of Sadness
Some key areas of debate:
The contrast between Japanese rule and the KMT - illustrates the very complex relationship Taiwan has with both Japan and PRC.
Unlike Korea and China, Taiwan does not have such as vehement hatred towards Japan.
The ongoing political debate between PRC and Taiwan is complex and informs much of the political and cultural landscape. Japan is often treated with a sense of nostalgia whereas the White Terror has no such sentiment.
Li Tou ' the film does not so much 'write 'the historial events of the past as much as it uses the device of cinematic narrative to explore the writing of history.
This idea is key in the presentation of Ererba (228 Incident).
It was offically whitewashed (this has changed in last decade with a museum on it in Taipei) but still a closed subject when film made.
It was used as the justification for the KMT to impose martial law.
In city of sadness we see the dead, the torture, those who come into the hospital injured where Hiromi works, and the intense impact it has on an ordinary family.
"This unofficial history presents an alternative viewpoint about the creation of the state. As the history unfolds, the narrative reveals the facts, which include government incompetence, corruption,
(choas), and the disappearances, arrests, and deaths associated with Ererba. The history, which points to a genocide, was elided by the officially sanctioned creed. (Rosemary Haddon)
Role of the authorial voice....
We have two.
Hiromi - the female lead who, via her dialogue is seeking to retain her ethical and moral concerns in the face of tragedy.
We also have Hou the director, key in this telling of the 'unoffical' story.
Tawian is a nation of fragmentation, numerous strands and hybrity,
There is a legacy of colonialism, neo-colonialism, traditionalism, modernity, multiple linguistic and ethnic identity.
So, how can such a history be presented on film?
Hou's film (s) seek to open up these debates and search for a new Taiwanese history that engages all these elements.
Cape No 7 Dir. Wei Te-Sheng
New vision of Taiwan's past and current time
released in 2008 - won a series of awards and was a huge box office smash (it really is a great film)
engaged both mandarin chinese, Japanese and Taiwanese
Mixed ethic cast and enaged both Taiwan's relationship with Japan, its aboriginal past, tensions between urban and rural.
released globally and was Taiwans entry for a number of international film festivals.
So, to conclude;
Taiwanese cinema is not just representing a history it is also interrogating it.
Taiwan itself is a multifaceted nation with major historical traumas that have taken place in modern times
It stuggles to find a place against PRC, Hong Kong, South Korea and Japan.
Politically it is still a grey zone... and cinema, like sport, music and wider culture, reflects that.
Cinema as History: City of Sadness