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Chinese Film Classics and Hollywood Resonances

Join Professor Christopher Rea from the University of British Columbia on his talk about Chinese Film Classics and Hollywood Resonances.

March 10, 2020 4:00pm to 6:00pm
Colloquium: Center for Chinese Studies | March 10 | 4-6 p.m. | 3335 Dwinelle Hall
Speaker: Christopher Rea, Professor of Chinese, University of British Columbia
Panelist/Discussant: Andrew Jones, Professor and Louis B. Agassiz Chair in Chinese, UC Berkeley
Sponsors: Li Ka-Shing Foundation Program in Modern Chinese History at Berkeley, Department of East Asian Languages & Cultures
This talk will examine several examples of how Hollywood films influenced Chinese films between the 1920s and the 1940s. Historians are well aware that Chinese cinema culture of the Republican era had extensive international links, in production, distribution, and exhibition. They have identified stylistic similarities, shared genre conventions (the musical, the social melodrama, the horror film, the screwball comedy), and remakes, such as the adaptation of Phantom of the Opera (1925) into Song at Midnight (1937). This talk will focus on specific motifs and scenarios shared by Hollywood films and celebrated Chinese films such as Laborer’s Love (1921), Goddess (1934), Sports Queen (1934), Street Angels (1937), Long Live the Missus (1947) and Wanderings of Three-Hairs the Orphan (1949). Christopher Rea argues that these patterns of influence indicate that more intertextual research remains to be done on genealogical links between Chinese and foreign films of the black and white era. “New China cinema” of the 1950s and 1960s is another frontier for such research, as even “Red Classics” such as The Red Detachment of Women (1960) show traces of Hollywood films of the 1930s.
Christopher Rea is Professor of Chinese and Associate Head of the Department of Asian Studies at the University of British Columbia, as well as former Director of the UBC Centre for Chinese Research. His monograph The Age of Irreverence: A New History of Laughter in China, which won the Association for Asian Studies 2017 Joseph Levenson Book Prize (post-1900 China), has been translated into Chinese. His other books include China’s Literary Cosmopolitans (2015), Humans, Beasts, and Ghosts (2011), The Business of Culture (2015) (with Nicolai Volland), The Book of Swindles: Selections from a Late Ming Collection (2017) (with Bruce Rusk), Imperfect Understanding (2018), and China’s Chaplin (2019). His forthcoming book is entitled Chinese Film Classics.
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