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History, Memory, Nostalgia: Rewriting Socialism in Chinese Cinema and Television Drama

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This study will focus on a cluster of new films and television dramas that revisit and rewrite the history of Chinese socialism from a different point of view in light of the capitalist frenzy of commercialism and commodification in contemporary post-socialist China. It seems that it is only possible after some 20 years, after the historical wounds and traumas have been largely healed, that a new critical distance can be reached in regard to the past. Socialism during the 1950s-1970s conveniently signifies the values and ideals that are putatively absent today—idealism, egalitarianism, self-sacrifice, and innocence. The critique of the present consumer society thus comes in the form of nostalgia for the past in contemporary Chinese cinema.

Keywords: Chinese socialism; Marxism; cinematic discourse; contemporary Chinese cinema; nostalgia; postsocialist countries

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1386/ac.16.2.2_1

Affiliations: University of California

Publication date: September 1, 2005

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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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