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Heroism/Terrorism: Empire Building in Contemporary Chinese Films

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This article will explore the representations of war and empire building in two selected movies. More specifically, I intend to compare and contrast the different interpretations of the final stage of the Warring States period (453-221 BCE), leading to the first unification of the Chinese Empire under the Qin (221-207 BCE), in the two movies Hero by Zhang Yimou, and The Emperor and the Assassin by Chen Kaige. My principal goal is to examine the foundation myth of Chinese "righteous" Empire in these movies, as well as the ideological connotations concerning this past that the directors attempt to convey to their contemporary audiences.

Keywords: The fifth generation; contemporary Chinese cinema; empire; righteous; war

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: University of Bristol

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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