Chinese texts, western analysis: from film to novel

Tei, Chiew Siah (2007) Chinese texts, western analysis: from film to novel. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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This study explores perceptions of Chinese texts by Western audiences while looking into the interrelation between film and literature. This is done by two means: firstly, through a detailed discussion of film adaptations with the focus on Chinese cinema, and secondly, through a practical demonstration of a filmic style in prose fiction in the form of an original book-length piece of fiction.

Using Bakhtin’s ‘dialogism’ as the point of departure, the research on adaptations adopts an intertextual approach of adaptation theory as developed by Robert Stam, looking into the intertextual relationship between a hypotext (a source text) and a hypertext (film adaptation). The analysis of Raise the Red Lantern by Zhang Yimou (1991) and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon by Ang Lee (2001) concludes that both films contain elements of familiarity and strangeness for Western audiences, an uneasy mix of intimacy and exoticism which underpins their appeal. However, this phenomenon is unintended by the filmmakers themselves, chiefly because, firstly, the directors’ exposure to Western film art has contributed to the use of techniques that are familiar to Western audiences in the making of their films, and, secondly, the elements of strangeness are related to the natures of the films, the cultural elements involved and the locations in which the films are made, which are unfamiliar to a Western audience.

The writing of the novel, Little Hut of Leaping Fishes, reveals the necessity of incorporating cultural elements into a narrative that is set in a time and place where the culture is deeply rooted. My background as a fourth-generation Chinese in Malaysia informs my urge as an artist and critic to explore aspects of my own cultural identity.

The main concern, which is the key discovery of this experiment, is that once a writer understands the shared creative mechanism between film and literature, he can place a camera before his pages to capture the scenes he carefully arranged, making the page a screen onto which images as well as words can be projected.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PI Oriental languages and literatures
P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General) > PN1993 Motion Pictures
Colleges/Schools: College of Arts > School of Critical Studies > English Literature
College of Arts > School of Culture and Creative Arts > Theatre Film and TV Studies
Supervisor's Name: Geraghty, Prof. Christine and Maslen, Dr. Rob and Maley, Prof. Willy
Date of Award: 2007
Depositing User: Angi Shields
Unique ID: glathesis:2007-3992
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 13 Feb 2013 11:33
Last Modified: 13 Feb 2013 11:33

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