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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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Family Resemblance, Class Conflicts

Family Resemblance, Class Conflicts

Re-version of the Sisterhood Singsong Drama

(p.48) Chapter 2 Family Resemblance, Class Conflicts
Remaking Chinese Cinema

Yiman Wang

University of Hawai'i Press

This chapter continues to study the interregional production of the location-specific Chinese-language cinemas by examining a set of singsong “sisterhood” films—a highly popular genre that hybridizes musical and melodrama, thereby appealing to its audience on the acoustic as well as dramatic level. To examine the remaking of this genre, it interweaves gender and class issues, as dramatized in four films: Sister Flowers (Zimei hua) (dir. Zheng Zhengqiu, 1933, Shanghai), The Sister Flowers from the South (Nanguo zimei hua) (dir. Li Bin, Liang Chen, 1939, Hong Kong), The Happy Reunion (Xin zimei hua) (dir. Hu Peng, 1962, Hong Kong), and Stage Sisters (Wutai jiemei) (dir. Xie Jin, 1964, Shanghai). All four films deploy the sisters' separation and reunion as a vehicle for staging domestic and social contradictions and structural shifts. In the four sisterhood films, gender is consistently foregrounded, while the issue of class conflict is alternately obscured or highlighted. The different strategies of managing the two issues in each film suggest the films' radically different political positions, which are in turn determined by 1930s (semi)colonial and 1960s Cold War geopolitics in Shanghai and Hong Kong. By projecting divergent visions of domestic reunion and social reconfiguration, these films become imprinted by their specific geopolitics and strive to articulate situated collective subject positions at different historical conjunctures. Each remake reworks and repurposes its predecessor film(s) through a so-called act of “re-version”.

Keywords:   singsong films, sisterhood films, gender, class conflict, Chinese cinema, cross-Pacific film, film remaking

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