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National Cinema, Local Language, Trans-regional Adaptation: Dialect Comedy in the Early People's Republic of China

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As the Mao era is generally considered a period of national isolation and totalitarianism, its cinema has seldom been examined from the perspectives of the local and the transnational. A closer look at film comedies produced in the early PRC period, however, shows dynamic interaction between the local and the (trans-)national in Chinese cultural production during the late 1950s and early 1960s. Many dialect comedies and comedies adapted from regional performing traditions were produced and distributed across the country and even overseas during this period. The cinematic interest in dialect and regional comedic traditions in this period prompts many critical questions and problematizes the seemingly homogeneous official culture in the early PRC. By focusing on the particular genre of dialect comedy, this essay attempts to retrieve the complex interaction between the local and the national and encourages further reconsideration of Maoist national cinema.
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Keywords: Chinese culture; Maoist national cinema; dialect comedies; people's Republic of China; regional traditions

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2010-03-01

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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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