Jerome Silbergeld: Hitchcock with a Chinese Face

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Hitchcock with a Chinese Face: Cinematic Doubles, Oedipal Triangles, and China's Moral Voice

University of Washington Press, 2004

As China and the West grow closer together year by year, Chinese cinema becomes increasingly Westernized and Western interest in Chinese cinema continues to grow. Hitchcock with a Chinese Face examines three recent award-winning films—one from Shanghai, one from Hong Kong, one from Taipei—concerned with the issues of developing globalization and the defense of local identity and culture. Superficially different, these films surprise Western audiences with their sophisticated cinematic skills and the depth of their engagement with Dostoevsky and Freud, Faulkner and Hitchcock. They employ double-characters, multiple identities, and radically nonlinear narrative structures and pay homage to film noir, individualizing psychodynamics never before seen in Chinese cinema and increasing tension between traditional Chinese and modern Western moral values.

Jerome Silbergeld examines Suzhou River (People’s Republic of China, 2000), The Day the Sun Turned Cold (Hong Kong, 1994), and Good Men, Good Women (Taiwan, 1995) in greater depth than seen in any previous study of Chinese cinema. An art historian, he explores the visuality of these films in unusual detail, taking account of the film makers’ reliance on the metaphoric image in skirting Chinese film censorship. Surprising connections are drawn as Silbergeld’s arguments unfold, and his ideas spiral outward in cyclical patterns that are themselves almost cinematic in scope. Witty and insightful, Silbergeld’s text relates seemingly disparate elements of three films to create a new perspective on the latest and finest Chinese-language films, on the complexities of life in China’s rapidly modernizing culture, and on the universal themes of politics and betrayal, honor and pity.

The book is illustrated entirely with actual frames from films, rather than with the publicity stills used in most publications about Chinese cinema. A DVD accompanies this volume, containing key scenes from each film and a full-color version of each illustration in the book.

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