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Communist China viewed from its cinema

Communist China viewed from its cinema

Course description

The purpose of this course is to study how the history of Communist China is told, revealed and questioned in some Chinese film productions (fiction and documentary, official or underground). We will mainly focus on the dramatic moments of the Mao Era, between 1949 and 1966: the Land Reform, the One Hundred Flowers Movement followed by the Anti-rightist campaign that sent thousands of Chinese in labor camps, the Great Leap Forward and the Famine disaster that followed and the Cultural Revolution. We will confront the official history with the narrative given by films made during or after that period. We will try to understand how worked propaganda through films but also how some of these films bring different perspective on what happened during this era, how film by itself allows to shed a new, different and sometimes controversial light on this past.

Required reading

  • Brown, Jeremy. Dilemmas of Victory. Harvard University Press, 2010.
  • Dikötter, Frank. The Tragedy of Liberation: A History of the Chinese Revolution 1945-1957. Bloomsbury Publishing, 2013
  • Dikötter, Frank. Mao's Great Famine: The History of China's Most Devastating Catastrophe, 1958-62. Bloomsbury Publishing, 2010.
  • Nien Cheng, Life and Death in Shanghai, Grove Press; Reissue edition (December 14, 2010)

Additional required reading