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A Comparative Study on the Western Film in China

April 28, 2009 - 12:00pm
Philippines Conference Room, Encina Hall, 3rd Floor
CEAS CHINA BROWN BAG SERIES, SPRING 2008-09 Pei Yali, Fulbright Visiting Scholar, East Asian Culture and Language Department, Columbia University As a genre, American western film has created a significant aesthetic style, which has deeply and widely influenced film production of other countries. Against this background, some films made by Xi'an Film Studio in 1980s and 1990s were called Chinese western film. At that time, Chinese critics wanted to find a new genre for Chinese film to draw audiences back to the unprosperous movie theaters. In terms of development, there are four phases of Chinese western film: first, Wu Tianming, who takes the western China as the reality by which he shows audiences how people who lived there survive; second, Chen Kaige, in his view the western China is a sign which represents traditional Chinese culture; third, Zhang Yimou, who thinks that the western China is a place which is full of amusement, recreation, and vitality; fourth, Huang Jianxin and others, for whom the style of the western China is a mode of film production. From the four phases of Chinese western film I mentioned above, we can clearly find that Chinese western film has gone through a process from creating an artistic feature with its own characteristics, to intentionally making it as a model, and to intentionally intimating American western film. In the process of the development, Chinese western film gradually lost its vitality. The fact that Wang Quan An's film Tuya de Hunshi (Tuya's Wedding) was awarded in Bolin Film Festival seemingly indicates that the filmic style of Chinese western film, after all, cultivated the creative production of the younger generation filmmakers. However, how much progress Tuya's Wedding made in comparison with the films which have the similar style? Does Tuya's Wedding really represent a rejuvenation of the same type films' vitality? Xi'an is a city which has rich cultural tradition and cultural creativity, and the western China is also a region which is full of artistic potentials, then, is there a hopeful future for Chinese western film, as Broke Back Mountain for American western film?
Free and Open to the public.
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Center for East Asian Studies
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