While the term connotes a pejorative meaning today, during the early-twentieth century it served mainly to denote a type of persuasion — images and words which imparted a political message. The rise of modern propaganda is closely associated with the rise of new technologies such as radio, film, and television which were viewed not only as sources of entertainment but also as potential tools of social education and control.
In China as well, terms like propaganda and political education may today raise a certain degree of skepticism among the general populace. Yet it is undeniable that throughout much of the twentieth century the production of mass media for specific state purposes constituted a highly public and officially acknowledged function of government. What messages did it contain? How was it disseminated to audiences? How was it viewed and received? London: Cassell, Chang, Julian. Armonk: M. Sharpe, Chen, Tina Mai.
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London: Routledge, Clark, Paul. Chinese Cinema: Culture and Politics since Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, David-Fox, Michael.
Oxford: Oxford University Press, Kraus, Richard Kurt. New York: Rowman and Littlefield, Leyda, Jay. Perry, Elizabeth J. Berkeley: University of California Press, Pickowicz, Paul G. Stranahan, Patricia. This chapter makes an argument about the importance of propaganda in the context of political and economic mobilization.
Different Aspects of the Country in the Films Essay - 3
Why, then, did Mao Zedong and his supporters decide that such a far-fetched policy was plausible in ? Assume that the propaganda of the time provides some insight into how Mao and others imagined that the Leap might work: How could it have worked? What steps were required?
What was its purpose? Why was this purpose significant? Or, imagine that you are making a case for the correctness of Great Leap Forward policies to a group of skeptics: What are you trying to accomplish, and what evidence suggests that you might be able to accomplish your goals? According to these same images, what was the reward for more enthusiastic participation in economic production? How, exactly, were lives supposed to change as a result?
When this utopian imagery was abruptly discarded during post-Leap economic retrenchment, how might people have responded to the sudden change in message? Too many studios were built, and the artistic quality of the films produced was typically poor. At the same time, Chinese society during this era was becoming increasingly media-saturated. Can you think of similar transitions from in other times and places?
Why might these examples help us to understand why media seemed like such a potentially powerful political tool in the context of late s China?
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What clues concerning the answer to this question are provided by the scholars mentioned above? Are their arguments the same, or do you detect differences? A newer work by Michael David-Fox also argues that model villages played a role in how the Soviet Union conducted managed its foreign relations. If so, how would you define it?
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In what ways were China and the Soviet similar in this respect, and in what ways were they different? But the [Chinese film] market is growing and we are not touched by many films that are huge box office successes. Money is not the final goal, this is more than clear. This market, let me tell you, is blind. Chen uses the term with caution.
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Like his classmates Zhang Yimou and Tian Zhaungzhuang, Chen had a rhapsodic vision of cinema and blended the personal and political with a nuance at odds with the staid propagandic films of previous decades. But Chen says that in Farewell My Concubine, society and politics are secondary.
At the forefront is the blurred distinction between life and stage and the confusion of identity. I believe Dieyi was me. A boy born with too many fingers, he is coaxed into female roles, suffers sexual assault and, in a maternal act befitting his befuddled sense of gender, adopts a baby from the street. When Dieyi plays the concubine he inhabits his female self and is free to adore Xiaolou. Offstage he must relinquish that role. Because during that time our leader called on us to have something called class struggle, and then we had to learn to hate, not to love.
But to love is everything. Intelligent, enthralling, epic.
A lonely housewife finds her monotonous life altered when her childhood sweetheart returns to town. Votes: 2, Dir Fei Mu, ; Melodrama In a small town maimed beyond recognition by war, a housewife ambles along the ruined city walls every day. Its portrayal of individuals as psychologically tormented and morally conflicted, rather than as part of an ideologically enlightened mass that had transcended banalities like human suffering, was deemed reactionary and bourgeois.
For perhaps the first and only time in the history of such things, the censors likely got it right. Withdrawn from cinemas by censors after just a handful of screenings, Spring in a Small Town was rediscovered in the s with the reopening of the China Film Archive. Watching the film today, one is struck by how acutely it managed to diagnose the then-historical condition of China, and its daring formal experimentation.
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Though unmistakably of its time, the film also in this sense transcends it. A swoon has never seemed so irredeemably sad. Spring in a Small Town wears its veil of mourning like a widow whose spirit has departed along with her beloved spouse. Though its characters accept that they may never truly live in this life, they persist in trying to find dignity in being alive. During the Japanese occupation of China, two prisoners are dumped in a peasant's home in a small town.
The owner is bullied into keeping the prisoners until the next New Year, at which time The Cannes Grand Prix-winning Devils on the Doorstep showed that he knows a thing or two about exasperating audience expectations from behind the camera too. Set in in a backwater Chinese village held captive by the Japanese army, the film begins with its bumbling protagonist, Ma Dashan played by the director , interrupted mid-tryst by a seemingly familiar voice.
Upon opening the door, Dashan is met with an unknown intruder who persuades him at gunpoint to stash two captives in his basement cellar until New Year. The experience of watching the film is like flying by the seat of your pants on a rickety WWII-era biplane. The scenes of botched schemes that follow seesaw from tawdry satirical silliness to unflinching tragedy.
Devils on the Doorstep portrays war from the point of view of the working man, cutting through the nationalistic nonsense to reveal the unenviable position of those unwittingly caught in the bombs and bluster — people who are merely trying to make it out alive. War is, in this film, not only something horrific, but also patently ludicrous and absurd. In this comic indifference to the indiscriminate slaughter of human life, we come to recognise the true face of war.
As with a number of films on this list, Devils on the Doorstep was banned on its initial release, and a delegation was sent to the Cannes film festival to try to prevent it from being screened.