The film Hero, directed by Zhang Yimou and released in 2002, is widely regarded as the first globally successful indigenous Chinese blockbuster. A big expensive film with multiple stars, spectacular scenery, and astonishing action sequences, it touched on key questions of Chinese culture, nation and politics, and was both a domestic sensation and an international hit. This book explores the reasons for the film’s popularity with its audiences, discussing the factors which so resonated with those who watched the film. It examines questions such as Chinese national unity, the search for cultural identity and role models from China’s illustrious pre-communist past, and the portrayal of political and aesthetic values, and attitudes to gender, sex, love, and violence which are relatively new to China. The book demonstrates how the film, and China’s growing film industry more generally, have in fact very strong international connections, with Western as well as Chinese financing, stars recruited from the East Asian region more widely, and extensive interactions between Hollywood and Asian artists and technicians. Overall, the book provides fascinating insights into recent developments in Chinese society, popular culture and cultural production.
Table of Contents
List of figures. List of contributors. Editorial Note. About Hero. Acknowledgements. Foreword - Chris Berry Introduction - Gary D. Rawnsley and Ming-Yeh T. Rawnsley Part I: Changing Discourse of National Identities and Heroism 1. The Political Narrative(s) of Hero - Gary D. Rawnsley 2. Recycled Heroes, Invented Tradition and Transformed Identity - Yingjie Guo 3. The Emperor and the Assassin: China’s National Hero and the Myth of State Origins - Yiyan Wang 4. The King, the Musician and the Village Idiot: Images of Manhood - Kam Louie Part II: Transformations of Cultural Perception, Genre and Stardom 5. Twenty-first Century Women Warriors: Variations on a Traditional Theme - Louise Edwards 6. On ‘Tian Xia (All under Heaven)’ in Zhang Yimou’s Hero - Xiaoming Chen and Ming-Yeh T. Rawnsley 7. Hero: Rewriting the Chinese Martial Arts Film Genre - Haizhou Wang and Ming-Yeh T. Rawnsley 8. ‘Would You Rather Spend More Time Making Serious Cinema?’: Hero and Tony Leung’s Polysemic Masculinity - Mark Gallagher 9. Fifteen Minutes of Fame: Transient/Transnational Female Stardom in Hero - Olivia Khoo Part III: Local vs. Global: Deconstructing Global Chinese Blockbusters 10. Camp Pleasure in an Era of Chinese Blockbusters: Internet Reception of Hero in Mainland China - Sabrina Qiong Yu 11. North American Reception of Zhang Yimou’s Hero - Wendy Larson 12. Heroic Music: From Hunan to Hollywood and Back - Katy Gow 13. Visual Effects Magic: Hero’s Sydney Connection - Mary Farquhar 14.Towards a Global Blockbuster: The Political Economy of Hero’s Nationalism - Anthony Fung and Joseph M. Chan Filmography. Chinese Glossary: Selected Chinese Names and Terms. Chinese Dynasties at a Glance. Index.
Gary D. Rawnsley is currently Professor of Asian International Communications at the Institute of Communications Studies, University of Leeds, UK. Ming-Yeh T. Rawnsley is Research Fellow at the Institute of Communications Studies, University of Leeds, UK. Their most recent jointly edited publications include Political Communications in Greater China: The Construction and Reflection of Identity (also published by Routledge) and Critical Security, Democratisation and Television in Taiwan.