History, Fiction, and Film Lust, Caution Revisited
Author: Shen, Vivian
Source: Asian Cinema, Volume 22, Number 2, February 2012 , pp. 305-321(17)
Abstract:Love (qing) and rationality (li), love (lian’ai) and revolution (geming), and lust (se) and caution (jie) are perennial themes in Chinese literature and cinema, addressing two conflicting aspects of human emotions and awareness – a person’s romantic feelings or lust for his/her lover and the moral or social responsibilities felt to the established rules of his/her community or country. The Oscar winner Ang Lee’s film Lust, Caution, based on Eileen Chang’s novella of the same title, depicts a story centering such a conflict during the second Sino-Japanese War (1937-1945). Wang Jiazhi, a patriotic and beautiful young woman, is asked to seduce Mr. Yee, a Japanese collaborator and a “traitor to China” in order to have him killed. But, at the last moment when she realizes that Mr. Yee loves her, she fails to carry the plan through and lets him go, which results in the death of herself, and her co-conspirators. Not long after Lust, Caution was released in the US and in mainland China, criticism and debates regarding the film’s graphic sexual content – or lack of it – and its political undertones became heated in both the US and China. In this article Vivian Shen considers the reception and controversies surrounding Lust, Caution.
Document Type: Research Article
Publication date: February 2012
- 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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