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Adaptations and receptions: Proof of the Man in Japan and China

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Proof of the Man () is a 1977 Japanese film adapted from Morimura Seiichi’s detective novel of the same name. The film was dubbed and released in China as part of an extensive Sino-Japanese cultural exchange programme following the end of Cultural Revolution. The dubbed version gained immense popularity among the Chinese audience. The melodramatic plot of filial affection, the beautiful dubbed voice and the emotional theme song proved humane and healing for a traumatized audience of the post-Mao era. But a closer analysis reveals that the social critique embedded in the filmic text of Proof of the Man was rewritten and reinterpreted in the Chinese dubbing and viewing process. Both the translators and reviewers often dismissed, whitewashed or oversimplified racial tensions in the film. Very few noted that racial discrimination within Japan – an important subtext of the film – is a main cause of the filicide tragedy. I argue that it was not just ignorance of Japanese history that prevented Chinese reviewers from acknowledging the existence of racism in Japan, and that their belief that equated racial discrimination with class oppression and white supremacy was self-serving.
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Keywords: China; Japan; film; race; reception; translation

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

Publication date: October 1, 2014

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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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