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Remaking Chinese CinemaThrough the Prism of Shanghai, Hong Kong, and Hollywood$
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Yiman Wang

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780824836078

Published to Hawaii Scholarship Online: November 2016

DOI: 10.21313/hawaii/9780824836078.001.0001

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The Goddess

The Goddess

Tracking the “Unknown Woman” from Hollywood through Shanghai to Hong Kong

Chapter:
(p.18) Chapter 1 The Goddess
Source:
Remaking Chinese Cinema
Author(s):

Yiman Wang

Publisher:
University of Hawai'i Press
DOI:10.21313/hawaii/9780824836078.003.0002

This chapter examines three maternal melodramas: Stella Dallas (dir. Henry King, 1925), The Goddess (dir. Wu Yonggang, 1934, Shanghai), and Rouge Tears (dir. Wu Yonggang, Chen Pi, 1938, Shanghai/Hong Kong), all of which narrate the ultimate disappearance of a lower-class mother who sacrifices her own interests and relinquishes her child to the more respectable patriarchal figure. Simultaneously virtuous (embodying selfless maternal love) and abject (being a woman of bad taste or an illegal streetwalker), the lower-class mother poses a representational dilemma. That is, how can maternal melodrama—a genre that privileges virtuous femininity and normalizes the middle-class, nuclear home space—portray a mother who is inextricably mired in moral decrepitude and illicit female sexuality and desire? This representational dilemma is key to understanding Shanghai and Hong Kong remakes in the mid-to the late 1930s, when social problems and Chinese national politics tended to be coded in terms of gender politics.

Keywords:   maternal melodrama, Stella Dallas, The Goddess, Rouge Tears, film remaking, remakes, Chinese cinema, gender politics

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