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Pandora’s Box: Time-Image in A Chinese Odyssey and the Becoming of Chinese Cinema

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This essay is a devoted close reading to show how A Chinese Odyssey has translated the anxiety of identity formation into a universal consciousness of time that fits in the post-revolutionary Chinese context. First, textual reading reveals the centrality of time in identity formation. Exploring the double structure of Deleuze’s philosophy of time, Qian wishes to demonstrate that the virtual aspect of time determines the becoming of the Monkey King’s identity, which not only subverts the image of the Monk King (and other characters), but also articulates the power of falsity in the becoming of identity. Second, the slapstick “wu li tou” style subverts any “serious” reading of Hong Kong’s identity, yet paradoxically, rationalizes its own subversion. It also aims to extend the textual world to the trans-regional context, the spatial dislocation and temporal delay in the reception of this movie address not only a local psychology of Hong Kong’s identity before 1997, but also a consciousness of global time among a broader audience and the becoming of Chinese cinema by the turn of the 21st century.
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Keywords: A Chinese Odyssey; Deleuze’s philosophy of time; Monkey King; reception; slapstick; time travel

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: University of Richmond

Publication date: 2011-03-01

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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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