The Cinematic Transformation in Post-Socialist China: A Case Study of Zhang Yimou’s Curse of the Golden Flower

By Lunpeng Ma.

Published by The Humanities Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Attempting to engage with both the post-socialist landscape in contemporary China and the new cinematic transformation in the humanities, this paper will explore Zhang Yimou’s Curse of the Golden Flower as a case to weave an interdisciplinary paradigm in terms of aesthetic representation, cinematic history, and social ideology. First, I will reveal the trope of the aesthetics of fascism from a triad of factors: the pursuit of perfection in forms, the appropriation of technology as social organs, and the monstrous sexuality in Curse. Second, this excessive, morbid aesthetical pursuit in post-socialist China creates an “uncanny” atmosphere that resembles German Expressionist aesthetics back to the 1920s. Thus this historical valence constitutes my second part in which Zhang’s experiment resides not only in the expressionistic aura, but in his dreaming of founding and eulogizing an empire. Finally, I suggest that the familiar aspect of the uncanny manifests its force in memory, the collective memory that carries the burden of trauma which haunts Zhang Yimou, among other Chinese directors, who has experienced various political upheavals but gradually chosen to revisit it in a rather inhuman way.

Keywords: Cinematic Transformation, Post-socialist China, Zhang Yimou, Curse of the Golden Flower

International Journal of the Humanities, Volume 7, Issue 11, pp.57-74. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.368MB).

Lunpeng Ma

Ph.D. Student, Comparative Literary and Cultural Studies Department, SUNY Stony Brook University, Stony Brook, New York, USA

Lunpeng Ma received both BA and MA degree from Shanghai Jiaotong University in 2003, 2006. He is a Ph.D. student in Comparative Literary and Cultural Studies Department of Stony Brook University, working on comparative Chinese-language cinema(s).

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