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On the Father Figures in Zhang Yimou’s Films: From Red Sorghum to Hero

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Since Zhang Yimou’s film Hero was released at the end of 2003, it has stirred up very strong controversy among audience and critics in China. The theme the film presents touches the core issue of the cultural identity of contemporary China; how to posit and treat a father figure. This issue is an important index for the ideology and value system of contemporary China. The presentation of the father figure and its change reveals the general trend and transition of contemporary culture and the value system in China. From Red Sorghum (1987), the first film ever directed by Zhang, to Hero, the father image has always been central and critical. Of course, the father is not only a father in terms of biology, but also in terms of authority. Regardless of whether they physically show up in a film, how the director views the father figure deeply affects the tone and narrative logic of a film. From Red Sorghum to Hero, Zhang Yimou’s position and judgement on the father figure changed dramatically. This article e amines this change in more detail.
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Keywords: Hero; Zhang Yimou; authority; family values; father figure

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2004-09-01

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  • Asian Cinema is a seminal journal, which has been published since 1995 by the Asian Cinema Studies Society under the stewardship of Professor John Lent. From 2012 Asian Cinema will be published by Intellect as part of our Film Studies journal portfolio. The journal currently publishes a variety of scholarly material - including research articles, interviews, book and film reviews and bibliographies - on all forms and aspects of Asian cinema. The journal's broad aim is to advance understanding and knowledge of the rich traditions of the various Asian cinemas, thereby making an invaluable contribution to the field of Film Studies in general.
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