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Contemporary Sino-French CinemasAbsent Fathers, Banned Books, and Red Balloons$
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Michelle E. Bloom

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780824851583

Published to Hawaii Scholarship Online: November 2016

DOI: 10.21313/hawaii/9780824851583.001.0001

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Imitating Frenchness in Emily Tang Xiaobai’s Conjugation and Jia Zhangke’s The World

Imitating Frenchness in Emily Tang Xiaobai’s Conjugation and Jia Zhangke’s The World

(p.160) Chapter 5 Imitating Frenchness in Emily Tang Xiaobai’s Conjugation and Jia Zhangke’s The World
Contemporary Sino-French Cinemas

Michelle E. Bloom

University of Hawai'i Press

The mode of imitation represents mainlanders’s desire for the French Other in films by Emily Tang Xiaobai and Jia Zhangke. Both directors portray the marginalized, whose lack of socioeconomic and geographic mobility leads to romantic visions of France and French cultural products. Tang’s debut feature Conjugation, (2001) set in post-Tiananmen Square Beijing, depicts French verb conjugations, literally. The French language, images and music provide a taste of the mythic Other for students trapped on the mainland. The migrant workers in Jia’s first aboveground film, The World, (2004) are also stuck in China a dozen years after Tang’s. In The World, France is represented in reduced size simulacra of monuments in the eponymous suburban Beijing theme park and in counterfeit designer fashions, whereas Paris’s Chinatown is seen (photographically) as a less promising reality. In both films, the directors to critique the People’s Republic through characters’ Occidentalist fantasies.

Keywords:   Jia Zhangke, Emily Tang Xiaobai, migrant worker, student, Tiananmen Square, counterfeit, immigration, Eiffel Tower, Belleville, Paris

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