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The antecedents of Taiwan new cinema : the state of Taiwan film in the 1960s and 1970s

  • Author(s): Wicks, James Anthony
  • et al.
Abstract

In many ways there could not be a more fascinating method to investigate how Taiwan's Chinese Nationalist Party (Guomindang, KMT) Government defined itself as the representative government of all of China in the 1960s and 1970s than to consider its state-sanctioned film industry. The films produced by the state represent ideas of national unity and a glorious "homeland" during decades that witnessed the most intense of transformations : in film with the rise and eventual decline of the popularity of Taiwan cinema in Southeast Asia, in literature with the xiangtu (nativist literature) debates, in the economy as factories and the emergence of small business replaced an agricultural infrastructure, and in politics with the end of the Nationalist's international status after losing its seat in the United Nations in 1971. At each stage the state propagated its ideal of "free China" for all to see on the silver screen -- an ideal made all the more complicated by competing regional and cultural influences : from the west by the People's Republic of China, from the north by the heritage of Japanese colonialism, from the east by the United States of America's concurrent military and economic aid, and from the south where a vast capitalist market was governed by lines drawn during the Cold War. Thus, situating these multiple discourses involves both a historical analysis, that is to bring the material and historical moment to light, and a cultural analysis, that is to consider how it is that the state believed images produced in a pop-medium might bolster a government's political status as its films competed on the open market. This dissertation both excavates the socio- historical context of Taiwan in the 1960s and 1970s in part by way of on site research in Taiwan thanks to the Ministry of Education (Taiwan, R.O.C.) "Talent Cultivation Project of Taiwanese Literature, History and Art in Globalization" Grant, and it pays close attention to the cinematic form using the lens of cultural studies. All the while it remains focused on the primary motivation for this project : a curiosity to explore a blank space on the map of English language scholarship concerning Mandarin language Taiwan cinema

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