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From Beijing Story to their story: Adaptation, politics and gay romance in Stanley Kwan’s Lan Yu

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Through a film adaptation of the anonymous Internet novel, Beijing Story, Stanley Kwan normalizes a male gay relationship against the backdrop of political unrest in 1980s and 1990s China. Choosing to de-emphasize the political and cultural context in Lan Yu (2001) reduces the visible complexity of the politics of homosexuality in China and between the two main characters, Chen Handong and Lan Yu. Nevertheless, Kwan’s decision to normalize the gay relationship creates gaps between the source text and adaptation that viewers, in the absence of an overt message, may choose to interpret politically. This article focuses on three areas in which these gaps are most obvious and open to political interpretation: money and politics, family structure and traditional values, and science and religion.
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Keywords: China; Internet novel; adaptation; film; gay romance; homosexuality and religion

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: University of Illinois, Springfield

Publication date: July 1, 2014

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  • Adaptation, or the conversion of oral, historical or fictional narratives into stage drama has been common practice for centuries. In our own time the processes of cross-generic transformation continue to be extremely important in theatre as well as in the film and other media industries. Adaptation and the related areas of translation and intertextuality continue to have a central place in our culture with a profound resonance across our civilisation.
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