the films of the Chinese cultural revolution revolutionary model operas
Paul Clark has established in The Chinese Cultural Revolution: A History (Cambridge University Press, 2008) that the commonly held idea of "8 model works for 800 million people" is simply untrue. Many other films circulated during the era, including foreign films from friendly countries. Nevertheless, it is the 8 model works - the yangbanxi - that are remembered. Contemporary invocations of their unique style are instantly recognizable in China and around the world. But what is this 'style"? This chapter analyzes the poetics of some of the most beloved of the Cultural Revolution "model work" films, including Taking Tiger Mountain by Strategy, Azalea Mountain, and The Red Detachment of Women. It approaches this as a poetics that deploys color, rhythm, music, pacing, montage, and other elements to create a powerful embodied response and to encourage political affiliation. However, because these processes are articulated but not identical, it is possible for audiences to remember and treasure their embodied pleasures without necessarily taking on board the politics attached to them.
Berry, C. (2016)., Red poetics: the films of the Chinese cultural revolution revolutionary model operas, in G. Bettinson & J. Udden (eds.), The poetics of Chinese cinema, Basingstoke, Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 29-49.
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