Thursday, February 14, 2013

"Staging" the Nation in Taiwan Film History

Within the context of the influence of the KMT on Taiwan politics during Nationalist Rule (the key periods in Taiwan’s modern history: Japanese Colonialism, Nationalist Rule, and the Democratic era), I follow the view that the films the state created and endorsed are presented as a staging, not a reflection, of national policies. The choice of wording between “staging” and “reflection” is selected from Theorising National Cinema. Vitali and Willemen state:

“films may and may not reflect the ideological trajectory dominant within the nation at any one time,” […] “films can be seen not to ‘reflect’, but to ‘stage’ the historical conditions that constitute ‘the national’ and, in the process, to ‘mediate’ the socio-economic dynamics that shape cinematic production, along with the other production sectors governed by national industrial regulation and legislation.” (1)

This characterization of the nation’s involvement in cinema in general is important when considering how the cinematic image is presented in Taiwan’s films of the 1960s and 1970s. For example, taking my case study of Bai Jingrui’s 1970 film Home Sweet Home as an example, one observes a national staging of the “ideal” Taiwan citizen on the big screen. My analysis demonstrates the ways in which the film is mediated by national and industrial regulations, following the lead of Vitali and Willemen’s theoretical foundation.

(1) Valentina Vitali and Paul Willemen, Theorising National Cinema, 7.
(2) note: this post follows my previous post "The Nation and Transnational Film Theory"

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