Hitchcock with a Chinese Face

Cinematic Doubles, Oedipal Triangles, and China's Moral Voice

Jerome Silbergeld

  • $35.00s paperback (9780295984179) Add to Cart
  • hardcover not available
  • Published: 2004
  • Subject Listing: Asian Studies / China; Film and Media Studies
  • Bibliographic information: 160 pp., 100 illus., 8.5 x 10 in.
  • Contents

Includes a DVD with scenes from Suzhou River, The Day the Sun Turned Cold, and Good Men, Good Women

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.
Jerome Silbergeld is the P. Y. and Kinmay W. Tang Professor of Chinese Art History and director of the Tang Center for East Asian Art at Princeton University. His numerous books include Contradictions: Artistic Life, the Socialist State, and the Chinese Painter Li Huasheng and China into Film: Frames of Reference in Contemporary Chinese Cinema.

"If the 'reality' of contemporary China comes down to not only the dizzying mushrooming of new skyscrapers and the rage of state-run capitalism with a Chinese twist but also new perceptual habits and new mindsets, then there is nothing more sensitive to these changes than the film medium; for demonstration of this, nothing better than the set of films chosen by Silbergeld; for unpacking them, hitherto there is no better reader of them than Silbergeld."
-Eugene Y. Wang, Harvard University

"Hitchcock with a Chinese Face belongs to the absolute best of scholarship in film studies. It brings together three films very diverse in stories and styles, moods and speeds, geographic origins and geopolitical problems. In this book these unite to form a multifaceted picture of more universal psychological and cross-cultural themes, including matters of the heart such as love and betrayal, or the profound intersections between ethics and aesthetics, politics and soul."
-Marek Wieczorek, University of Washington

DVD Film Scences
A Note on Transliteration
1. Hitchcock with a Chinese Face: Suzhou River
2. Oedipus Comes to Hong Kong: The Day the Sun Turned Cold
3. The Chinese Heart in Conflict with Itself: Good Men, Good Women

"The book displays a number of features that give it a special place in the current field of English-language writing about Chinese-language cinema."
-Robert Chi, MCLC Resource Center Publication, September 2006