Abstract
Zhang Yimou’s films Raise the Red Lantern (1991) and Judou (1990) were widely criticised for historical misrepresentation, because the rituals they represent are invented. They also attracted unprecedented interest in Chinese film from Western audiences. Close analysis demonstrates how the rituals depicted in these films allegorically represent techniques of social power within 1990s. Further, the invention of ritual in these films disrupts the citationality of ritual’s performative mode, thereby disturbing traditional ideas of cultural representation and authenticity. In these ways, Judou and Raise the Red Lantern can be read as critical of PRC and can be seen to address the politics of cross-cultural engagement.

The rituals central to Zhang Yimou’s early films Dahong Denglong Gao Gao Gua (Raise the Red Lantern, Zhang Yimou, 1991) and Judou (1990) were created for the films, rather than based precisely on historical precedent. This has significant implications for their cultural and political meanings, which has indirectly effected how these films have been received. Specifically, I argue that through invented ritual, Raise the Red Lantern and Judou criticise the culture and politics of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) in the 1990s and engage actively in cross-cultural politics. The Chinese government found these representations so uncomfortable, that they resulted in bans of the films in the PRC 1.

These days, Zhang Yimou is most well-known as director of twenty-first century global blockbusters Ying Xiong (Hero, 2002) and Shi Mian Mai Fu (The House of Flying Daggers, 2004), which were popular both in China and abroad. These spectaculars were also set in China several centuries ago, but primarily aimed at large Lunar New Year audiences and warmly received by the Chinese state 2. Hero and House of Flying Daggers were markedly different from Zhang’s earlier historical dramas; Raise the Red Lantern and Judou were produced on modest budgets for niche audiences. Critical work on Zhang Yimou’s early films often discussed their treatment of history, but rarely addressed the rituals prominently featured in the films. Some responses to Zhang’s early historical dramas criticised the falsity of their rituals; others disregarded the rituals in favour of a focus on issues of gender, sexuality and the body. 3 Chinese journalist Dai Qing attacked the rituals in Raise the Red Lantern, arguing that the lack of realism in the film’s cultural and historical detail amounts to cultural misrepresentation. 4 Similarly, Sheldon Hsiao-peng Lu described Zhang’s films as a “cultural sell-out,” which display Third World spectacle for the pleasure of Western audiences, while “real Chinese history’ is forgotten.” 5

Compared to other films from PRC in the early 1990s, Zhang Yimou’s films enjoyed unprecedented popularity abroad: large foreign audiences accompanied international awards. Hong Gaoliang (Red Sorghum, Zhang Yimou 1988) was the first Chinese film to win the Berlin Film Festival’s Golden Bear in 1988, and Judou was the first nominated for a Best Foreign Film Oscar in 1990. Conversely, in PRC both Raise the Red Lantern and Judou were banned for several years and then given a limited release 6. In response to this contradiction, China’s Film and Television Minister Ai Zhisheng remarked: “Abroad they give prizes. At home they are ridiculed. Surely China is the best judge of a Chinese film’s merits.” 7 Like Dai Qing, many Chinese have attributed the conflicting responses to Zhang’s films to Western Orientalism. 8 Thus, many Chinese regard these films as complicities which feed into Western fantasies of the Oriental ‘other,’ reinforce their position as cultural others and reproduce Western hegemony. 9 I would like to account for Zhang’s invention of ritual in Raise the Red Lantern and Judou, and the responses to them, in a more complex way.

Social rituals of family and community are the focus of many scenes in Raise the Red Lantern and Judou. These rituals are highly aestheticized within the films and have also become iconic representations of the films. These filmic ceremonies tend to employ some elements familiar to historical Chinese rituals, such as the use of the celebratory colour red and the colour of mourning white, bridal sedan chairs and funeral processions, the lighting of paper lanterns, and the use of dragon symbolism. However, these familiar features are combined with elements specific to these films, such as cloaking lanterns in black cloth bags, foot massages and the repeated prostration of relatives beneath the coffin during the funeral procession. Further, in these films the rituals are used in highly specific social contexts, to signify certain shifts in social standing or punishment within a particular family or village. Some familiar elements are used in ways that seem to contravene tradition, for example Dai Qing argues that it was taboo for anyone other than the Chinese Emperor to use the dragon symbol 10 The rituals in the films are thus commonly criticised for not following historical precedent, and this is why I refer to them as invented. American professor of History Donald Sutton noted that traditional rituals were altered or subverted in the films as a means of summing up power relations and critiquing the old society (prior to the Republic of China). 11

A thorough examination of the rituals in Raise the Red Lantern and Judou shifts focus from their relationship with Chinese history to their position in China and the world at the time the films were made. I argue that the rituals depicted in these films may symbolise the dominant practices of social power in PRC in the 1990s. Further, I explain how the invention of ritual in these films disrupts the citationality of ritual’s performative mode, thus disturbing traditional practices and conceptions of cultural representation. In these ways, Judou and Raise the Red Lantern can be read as critical of post-Tiananmen PRC and can be seen to engage in cross-cultural politics, two matters with which the Chinese authorities were profoundly uneasy. Although we readily situate many contemporary Chinese films as global and cosmopolitan, these films mark the emergence of this trend, indicating a shift in cultural production, consumption, aesthetics, politics and attitudes.

Dahong Denglong Gao Gao Gua (Raise the Red Lantern, 1991)

Ritual: Allegory of Power

We cannot begin to understand how ritual works on screen without a grasp of how it works in society. I outline here some of the more important aspects of Confucian ritual, which is the basis of modern Chinese conceptions of ritual. The Chinese character for ritual, Li, actually refers to a comprehensive concept, which includes ceremonies, social propriety, ethics and etiquette. In line with this, I have also adopted a very broad definition of ritual practice. In their analysis of the Confucian Analects, David Hall and Roger Ames define “ritual action” as an integral part of becoming a person in a social context: “In the Analects, it is repeatedly stated that it is ‘ritual action’ (Li) . . . which enables one to determine, assume and display his personal stance.” 12 Li thus plays a central role in an individual’s personal expression, and indeed their essential character development and constitution. While it is important to note that Li is a key factor in identity formation in this way, its significance is actually broader than this because of its impact on all interpersonal relations. 13 This stems from the Chinese notion that the construction of persons is relational, as opposed to the modern Western conception of the elementary individual. The relational conception of personal identity is more fluid, as it is based on the flux of social relationships. 14 The rituals depicted in Raise the Red Lantern and Judou govern interpersonal relations and reinforce social hierarchies, highlighting how power is exerted through everyday social practice.

The characters in Raise the Red Lantern are strictly controlled by ceremonies such as the raising of the red lanterns, and also by “family customs.” Liyan Qin notes how, “Zhang makes the phrase ‘old rules’ (lao guiju) a recurring theme.” 15 The spatial confinement of characters is defined by custom (each wife has a separate house within the compound) and emphasised at the level of cinematography, constantly framing characters within architectural structures. Customary forms of address in the film (“First Mistress,” Second Mistress,” and so on) serve to remind the wives and the audience that characters are defined by their position in the family, reinforcing position within a hierarchy.

Songlian is soon introduced to the family’s, and arguably the film’s, most important ritual: the raising of the red lanterns, which announces a shift in the social hierarchy of the family compound. Every day the concubines are assembled with their servants in a central courtyard and the master decides with whom he will spend the night. This decision is symbolised by lighting a red lantern in front of the chosen wife. A crew of servants then carries several red lanterns to the chosen wife’s courtyard, where they are raised, to be hung from the eaves and lit for the night. Back in her house, the chosen wife is then treated to a foot massage from an elderly ‘aunt.’ The entire elaborate procedure is a rather ostentatious way of signalling who is in favour with the master, which in turn signals which of the wives can wield power over the others in different ways, including setting the menu for the household. It is interesting to note that this key symbol, both within the film and for the film, is specifically about power relations in sexual relationships. Much of the lives of the concubines are centred around getting the red lanterns and a foot massage. The symbol here seems to be more important than its referent: power is exercised through the ritual rather than the act of sex itself.

Dahong Denglong Gao Gao Gua (Raise the Red Lantern, 1991)

When Songlian first catches the master in bed with her servant, Yaner, she is upset and reproaches him, but the affair continues. Yaner is only punished when Songlian reveals that Yaner secretly has her own collection of red lanterns in her bedroom. This demonstrates that sexual relations with the master are approved of tacitly, but appropriating the ritualistic symbol of power is not. Although the other wives feel it harsh, Yaner is punished according to family custom and must kneel in the snow until she apologises. The stubborn servant dies. It seems particularly morbid that even the punishment of servants is ritualised. However, considering that punishment is such a forceful exertion of power, its ritualisation is not entirely surprising in this context.

When Songlian announces about halfway through the film that she is pregnant, the lanterns are lit at Songlian’s house constantly, according to custom. After it is discovered that Songlian is not actually pregnant and has been lying, she is ritually punished. The red lanterns in her courtyard are extinguished and covered with special black bags. When the third wife is discovered in a compromising position with the family doctor, she is taken to the “house of death,” where two women from previous generations have come to grief for their ‘illicit affairs’. The ultimate illustration of the power of ritual in Raise the Red Lantern is the final scene. While it is summer again and the master is marrying his fifth wife, Songlian wanders around the compound and we learn from one of the servants that she has gone mad. Songlian is defined as mad and can no longer be accepted as a legitimate member of the family because she no longer actively participates in the family’s rituals.

The regulation of interpersonal relations and social hierarchies through these rituals draws attention to how power is exerted, performed and enforced. In particular, the ritualised control of sexual practices highlights the exercise of what Michel Foucault called “bio-power,” which exerts power over the biological bodies of individuals, and also over the body of the population. 16 Mayfair Yang observed that many elements of state power in the PRC conform to the disciplinary and normative techniques of Foucault’s “bio-power.” 17 The rituals in these films can thus be read as allegorical manifestations of power relations within twentieth century PRC. Further, Shelly Kracier noted that Songlian’s madness at the end of the film can be considered an act of political resistance: “As Foucault argued in ‘Madness and Civilization,’ in a world where ‘reason’ is completely colonized by power, ‘madness’ can be a strategic refusal to submit to power’s hegemony, the only possible gesture of defiance.” 18

Judou (1990)

Like Raise the Red Lantern, Judou is once again the story of a young bride, played once more by Gong Li, who is married off to an abusive master, Jinshan, by her insensitive family. The complex power relations at work within the film stem chiefly from the secret incestuous relationship between the new bride and her ‘nephew,’ Tianqing, who together have a son, Tianbai. The rituals of family custom and family law again make their presence felt on the characters in Judou, perhaps even more prominently than in Raise the Red Lantern, which features more ceremonial rituals.  Throughout the film, the village elders meet several times to make major decisions for the household according to family custom. The meetings always comprise several old men in black robes, whose identities are never made explicit, but whose chief function is to define the relations and identities of the film’s major characters. They do this in their ritualistic meetings through prescriptions concerning the characters’ roles and conduct within the family.

The first time we see the elders meet is after Judou’s baby is born, when they decide on the young boy’s name “According to ancestral laws.” The name chosen is ‘Tianbai,’ as it relates the new boy to his older ‘cousin,’ Tianqing. That Tianqing is actually Tianbai’s father (as well as his cousin), makes this inscription of identity all the more powerful, since it reinforces the fact that the child will have to grow up as Tianqing’s cousin. After the cruel Jinshan dies, the elders meet again to decide on mourning, funeral and subsequent living arrangements. As wife and nephew of the deceased master, Judou and Tianqing must dress in white mourning costumes. In the funeral procession they must wail, beat the coffin fifty times to try to ‘awaken’ their master, then lie under the coffin as the pallbearers carry it over them. Judou and Tianqing bicker throughout the ceremony about who is best performing the filial role. When the elders meet after the funeral, they dictate that Judou may never remarry, and that as a bachelor, Tianqing must now live separately from his widowed aunt. The family customs and the dictates of the village elders in Judou define the family structure and rule over births, deaths and marriages, exerting techniques of “bio-power,” which are analogous to practices within 1990s PRC. Judou and Tianqing even create their own rituals to play out their affair, using deliberate, repetitive gestures, depicted through repeated camera angles and sound effects.

Yang illustrates that the Chinese state’s use of “bio-power” is a major form of government control through the regulation of “the health, wealth, size, quality (suzhi), movement and thoughts of the population.” 19 The PRC government exercised power over these areas of life through institutions such as the party and the work unit, and practices such as the enforcement of the one-child policy, although this diminished notably throughout the 1990s 20. Regulation of food, families, sex and work were all concerns of the state, under the guise of the redistribution of wealth in the socialist system, though the focuses shifted during this period. Therefore, the representation of “bio-power” through the rituals in Raise the Red Lantern and Judou manifest analogues to power structures in PRC at the time the films were made. Many critics have argued that the criticism of power in these films is levelled at the patriarchy through the figures of the cruel feudal masters. 21 The impotent masters in Raise the Red Lantern and Judou can be seen to stand for the old men of the Chinese Communist party, but this can be interpreted either as a criticism of patriarchy or more specifically as a criticism of the Chinese political situation. It is important to remember when addressing representations of ritual, that the world of ritual is always already a politicised arena. 22 Through its role in the formation of both personal identity and a wider social structure, ritual signifies a marriage of the public and private. Therefore, although Raise the Red Lantern and Judou are set in pre-revolutionary China, they can be understood as allegories of modern China. The rituals in these films make them readable as critical of the way power is exercised in PRC at the time these films were made. This politically unpopular stance has made these films the target of censorship in PRC. It may also go some way towards explaining the contrast between their lack of success in the politically sensitive atmosphere of their home country, and their critical success in Western cultures.

Ritual: Citing Authenticity

Examining the diegetic meaning of the rituals in Raise the Red Lantern and Judou has proved useful, however these rituals should not be read exclusively within the terms of their narratives. I offer a reading of the invention of ritual in Raise the Red Lantern and Judou through the notion of performativity, in order to explore issues of cultural representation. In the introduction to their book, Performativity and Performance, Andrew Parker and Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick note that since the work of Jacques Derrida and Judith Butler, the concept of the performative has been expanded to include not only certain forms of language, but also “all ritual, ceremonial, scripted behaviors.” 23 Ritual is fundamentally a performative form, because it relies on quotation and repetition, which produces transformation. 24 Esteemed anthropologist Victor Turner notes that he thinks of ritual primarily as performance, and Tom Driver defines rituals as “performative actions.” 25 Reinforcing the performativity of ritual, Watson notes that in Chinese ritual, “Performance . . . took precedence over belief.” 26

What does it mean to examine representations of Chinese ritual through the notion of performativity? Performativity is a Western concept created by linguists to explain the function and power of language, or, more specifically, “speech acts.” 27 This has been extended by theorists of gender and sexuality, who use performativity to deconstruct essentialist notions of masculinity, femininity, heterosexuality and homosexuality. 28 In the West, performativity functions on the paradigm of naturalisation: performativity is generally effaced by naturalised essentialism and analyses of performativity highlight performances in an endeavour to denaturalise them. It is assumed that if, for example, gender is denaturalised and shown to be performative, that is, something performed rather than simply expressed, then these performances can be changed. Applying these ideas to non-Western texts has interesting effects, as Chinese identity is widely understood to function in a performative manner and does not efface this aspect of its construction. This may mean that performativity is more up-front in the Confucian model than in Western conceptions, and therefore does not require denaturalising. Western poststructuralist reasoning, which is aimed entirely at denaturalising performativity, is consequently inappropriate in the Chinese situation. What is required here is a rethinking of Western theorisations of performativity, as this notion may still be used to different ends. An examination of the operation of the performative will illuminate our understanding of the invention of ritual on screen.

Through focusing on the role of citation in performativity, we can explain how Raise the Red Lantern and Judou disturb ideas of cultural representation. Repetition is an integral component of all rituals and performatives. However, it is not pure repetition that enables the performative, and therefore the ritual, to function, but its citationality. 29 According to Judith Butler, citation is what gives the performative its power:

If a performative provisionally succeeds … [it is] only because that action echoes prior actions, and accumulates the force of authority through the repetition or citation of a prior, authoritative set of practices. What this means, then, is that a performance “works” to the extent that it draws on … the constitutive conventions by which it is mobilized. 30

Likewise, the power of ritual stems from its citation. James Watson’s argument for the primacy of orthopraxy in Chinese ritual reminds us that Chinese rituals ‘work’ because they have ‘worked’ before. 31

How, then, does citationality work in the invented rituals in Raise the Red Lantern and Judou? It does not. The rituals in these films are performed assuming the pattern of citationality of all rituals. However, because they are invented, they in fact have no precedent. This means that these rituals are references without referents, or, to use Jean Baudrillard’s term, simulacra. 32 Invented rituals cite nothing. I contend that the invention of ritual in Raise the Red Lantern and Judou deliberately disrupts the citationality of performativity. Rituals are so prominent in Raise the Red Lantern and Judou because they form the basis of Chinese cultural identity. James Watson notes that the performance of ritual played an integral part in unifying Chinese identity. 33 In addition, the co-editor of the Journal of Ritual Studies, Donald Sutton, suggests in his discussion of Zhang’s films that “ritual, it can be said, embodied the unity and diversity of China – Chineseness in all its complexity.” 34

In this way, the filmic re-presentation of ritual is also a form of cultural representation, a signal of “Chineseness” that is heightened by international attention. Raise the Red Lantern and Judou probably had a greater audience abroad than they did at home, and Zhang and his critics seem painfully aware of the fact that he “has redefined the way the world visualises China.” 35 I propose that the disruption of the performative mode’s citationality in these films marks a disturbance of cultural representation at work: how can one re-present something, which is invented? What appears to upset critics is not that Zhang Yimou shows Chinese identity to be performative, as this is taken for granted, rather that he performs Chinese identity incorrectly. Zhang does not cite the proper forms, he invents them, flouting orthopraxy. Two different readings of the effects of this disturbance may be inferred, according to the films’ two main audiences. The disruption of citationality, I contend, has different effects for audiences abroad and in PRC.

Raise the Red Lantern

In the cross-cultural context, Zhang’s disturbance of ritual citationality can be read as an attempt to complicate notions of cultural authenticity. The invention of ritual complicates ethnic signifiers, highlighting the arbitrariness of the position that these films occupy as they “speak as Chinese.” Through this reading of the invention of ritual we are left not with a cultural misrepresentation, rather an exploration of the concept of cultural authenticity. Zhang’s invention of ritual disavows any notion of authenticity in cultural representation, and thus highlights the problem that, in the words of Sneja Gunew, “the whole notion of authenticity . . . is one that comes to us constructed by hegemonic voices.” 36 The fabricated rituals in Raise the Red Lantern and Judou therefore question both the way that China can be represented, and the history that informs such representations and their reception. Zhang’s films acknowledged the Orientalist gaze. However, unlike Dai Qing, I do not see Zhang’s films as an appeal to the “foreign devil,” rather as an attempt to engage in discourses of transnational exchange. 37

The rejection of the notion of authenticity complicates the very structures that have formed the Orientalist gaze, specifically, the dichotomy between ‘East’ and ‘West,’ which inherently privileges the ‘West.’ Presenting China as inauthentic implicitly undermines notions of authenticity on the other end of the binary: the West is displaced from its privileged position, along with the effects of the imperialist project. The very issue of Zhang’s representation of China to the world complicates the dichotomy between ‘East’ and ‘West’: Rey Chow argues that, “the ‘ethnicity’ of contemporary Chinese cinema – ‘Chineseness’ – is already a sign of cross-cultural fetishism.” 38 In this way, Zhang’s invention of ritual implicitly suggests that there are numerous ways to view and represent ‘China.’

This reading of the effects of the invention of ritual relies on the fact that audiences acknowledge the rituals as fabricated. While the invention seemed obvious to Chinese viewers, Zhang’s substantial foreign audiences may have missed this. Without resorting to Dai Qing’s charges of ‘deception’ and cultural misrepresentation 39, how can we interpret the invention of ritual in this context? Firstly, I would like to suggest that ‘deception’ is not such a significant issue in the Western reception of fiction films, as it is more generally taken for granted that films invent. Secondly, through this reading of the disruption of ritual citationality and the consequent disturbance of notions of cultural authenticity, I have attempted to bring forth an understanding that there is no such thing as cultural ‘deception,’ just as there is no ‘authentic’ way to represent ‘China.’

This disruption of citationality must also have implications within China itself.  Rey Chow notes that the many readings which focus solely on the implications such representations have in the cross-cultural arena implicitly reinscribe Orientalism. 40 We must also consider more localised implications of these arguments, as well as different readings available to these rituals in the Chinese context. The refusal of notions of cultural authenticity can also be read in terms of the PRC’s relationship with the other Chinas: Hong Kong and Taiwan. Of course, here it also has the effect of destabilising cultural oppositions: the complication of cultural authenticity undermines the PRC’s international political position that it is the only “true” China. Thus, Zhang challenges the authenticity of contemporary constructions of Chinese history and power. This prompts a rethinking of the way representations of traditional China are used in the government-controlled cultural production of PRC, suggesting different ways to use and interpret “traditional China” in shaping its present and future. These readings of the implications of the disturbance of the performative form remind us that, rather than a primary emphasis on “the struggle against the West”, what some parts of Chinese culture oppose most is their own government, their own traditions and their own history. These films manifest an inward ambivalence to contemporary as well as traditional Chinese culture.

Conclusion

The invention of ritual in Judou and Raise the Red Lantern disturbs the citationality of the performative form. In the context of cultural representation, this disturbance has significant implications. It can be read as a disavowal of conceptions of authentic cultural representation, thus actively engaging in issues of cross-cultural representation. Further, it can be understood as critical of contemporary PRC and its uses of Chinese history. Both of these understandings of the invention of ritual would be uncomfortable for Chinese authorities, who banned and censored Raise the Red Lantern and Judou. The social climate of the PRC has changed since these post-Tiananmen films were made, and the success of Zhang’s blockbuster Hero points to some of the key cultural transitions emerging as China embraces a market economy in the twenty-first century.

The role of ritual in Judou and Raise the Red Lantern has previously been disregarded because of the ‘falsity’ of the rituals represented in the films. However, this examination of ritual in these films has proved fruitful in a number of ways.  The depiction of ritual in these films draws attention to techniques of “bio-power” and allegorically critique social power relations in contemporary PRC. Further, the disturbance of performative citationality, created by the invention of the rituals in these films, disavows notions of authentic cultural representation and invites a rethinking of established Chinese cultural practices. This focus on the role of ritual in Raise the Red Lantern and Judou has therefore demonstrated how these films engage critically in issues of contemporary Chinese culture and cross-cultural politics. In this way, these films might be considered “Cosmopolitan Cinema,” which Felicia Chan argued is articulated not through the world that the film represents, rather by the film’s mode of engagement with its own cultural practice. 41 Indeed, Zhang’s early films have now set a precedent that has been cited by subsequent Chinese films. 42 Thus, far from being overlooked as a result of their fabrication, the rituals in these films warrant specific attention because they are invented. These films mark a significant shift in the way China increasingly creates films that address their global context in complex ways.

This article has been peer reviewed.

Endnotes:

  1. Frances Gateward. Zhang Yimou: Interviews. (Jackson: University of Mississippi Press, 2001) 64; Mayfair Mei-hui Yang, “Of Gender, State Censorship and Overseas Capital,” Public Culture 5.2 (1993): 299; Tan Ye, “From the Fifth to the Sixth Generation: An Interview with Zhang Yimou,” Film Quarterly 53.2 (1999/2000): 3; Scarlet Cheng, “Ju Dou & the Cultural Clampdown: Up for Best Foreign Film, But Banned in China,” Washington Post, March 24 (1991) GI, G4; Dru C. Gladney, “Representing Nationality in China: Refiguring Majority/Minority Identities,” The Journal of Asian Studies 53.1 (1994): 118.
  2. Haomin Gong, “Zhang Yimou,” in Fifty Contemporary Film Directors, 2nd ed. Yvonne Tasker, ed. (New York: Routledge, 2011) pp. 434-442; Ying Zhu, “New Year Film as Chinese Blockbuster: From Feng Xiaogang’s Contemporary Urban Comedy to Zhang Yimou’s Period Drama” in Art, Politics, and Commerce in Chinese Cinema, Ying Zhu and Stanley Rosen, eds. (Hong Kong: Honk Kong UP, 2010) pp.195-207.
  3. Chris Berry, “Neither One Thing Nor Another: Toward a Study of the Viewing Subject and Chinese Cinema in the 1980s” in New Chinese Cinemas: Forms, Identities, Politics, Nick Browne, Paul Pickowicz, Vivian Sobchack and Esther Yau, eds. (New York: Cambridge UP, 1996), pp. 88-116; William A. Callahan, “Gender, Ideology, Nation: Judou in the Cultural Politics of China,” East-West Film Journal 7.1 (1993): pp. 52-80; Sheila Cornelius and Ian Haydn Smith. New Chinese Cinema: Challenging Representations. (London: Wallflower, 2002); Jeanette Delamoir. “Woman as Spectacle in Zhang Yimou’s ‘Theatre of Punishments,’” Screening the Past (December 1998), http://www.screeningthepast.com/2014/12/woman-as-spectacle-in-zhang-yimous-theatre-of-punishments/; Hsiu-Chuang Deppman. Adapted for the Screen: The Cultural Politics of Modern Chinese Fiction and Film. (Honolulu: Hawaiʻi UP, 2010); Maryann Farquhar, “Oedipality in Red Sorghum and Judou,” Cinemas 3.2-3 (1993): pp. 60-86; Jenny Kwok Wah Lau, “Judou: A Hermeneutical Reading of Cross-Cultural Cinema,” Film Quarterly 45.2 (1991-92): 2-10; Yuejin Wang “Red Sorghum: Mixing Memory and Desire,” in Perspectives on Chinese Cinema, 2nd ed. Chris Berry, ed. (London: BFI, 1991) pp. 80-103; Che-ming (Philip) Yang, “(Re)writing (Hi)stories: Re-presenting the Gender/Class in the Postcolonial Discourse/Condition of Zhang Yimou’s Movies and Wang Chen-ho’s Novels,” Asian Culture and History 3.1 (2011): 67-72; Esther C.M. Yau, “Cultural and Economic Dislocations: Filmic Phantasies of Chinese Women in the 1980s,” Wide Angle 11.2 (1989), pp. 6-21; Yingjin Zhang, “Ideology of the Body in Red Sorghum: National Allegory, National Roots and Third Cinema,” East-West Film Journal 4.2 (1990), pp. 38-53; Yi Zheng, “Narrative Images of the Historical Passion: Those Other Women – On the Alterity in the New Wave of Chinese Cinema” in Transnational Chinese Cinemas: Identity, Nation, Gender, Sheldon Hsiao-peng Lu, ed. (Honolulu: Hawaiʻi UP, 1997) pp.367-59.
  4. Dai Qing, “Raised Eyebrows for Raise the Red Lantern,” Public Culture 5.2 (1993): 333-37.
  5. Sheldon Hsiao-peng Lu, “National Cinemas, Cultural Critique, Transnational Capital: The Films of Zhang Yimou” in Transnational Chinese Cinemas: Identity, Nation, Gender, Sheldon Hsiao-peng Lu, ed. (Honolulu: Hawaiʻi UP 1997) pp. 126, 129.
  6. Frances Gateward. Zhang Yimou: Interviews. (Jackson: University of Mississippi Press, 2001) 64; Mayfair Mei-hui Yang, “Of Gender, State Censorship and Overseas Capital,” Public Culture 5.2 (1993): 299; Tan Ye, “From the Fifth to the Sixth Generation: An Interview with Zhang Yimou,” Film Quarterly 53.2 (1999/2000): 3; Scarlet Cheng, “Ju Dou & the Cultural Clampdown: Up for Best Foreign Film, But Banned in China,” Washington Post, March 24 (1991) GI, G4; Dru C. Gladney, “Representing Nationality in China: Refiguring Majority/Minority Identities,” The Journal of Asian Studies 53.1 (1994): 118.
  7. Minister Ai Zhisheng quoted in William A. Callahan, “Gender, Ideology, Nation: Judou in the Cultural Politics of China,” East-West Film Journal 7.1 (1993): pp. 52-80.
  8. Edward Said. Orientalism. (London: Routledge, 1978).
  9. Sheldon Hsiao-peng Lu, “National Cinemas, Cultural Critique, Transnational Capital: The Films of Zhang Yimou” in Transnational Chinese Cinemas: Identity, Nation, Gender, Sheldon Hsiao-peng Lu, ed. (Honolulu: Hawaiʻi UP 1997) pp. 105-36; Liyan Qin, “Transmedia Strategies of Appropriation and Visualization: The Case of Zhang Yimou’s Adaptation of Novels in His Early Films” in Art, Politics, and Commerce in Chinese Cinema, Ying Zhu and Stanley Rosen, eds. (Hong Kong: Hong Kong UP, 2010) pp.163-74.
  10. Dai Qing, “Raised Eyebrows for Raise the Red Lantern,” Public Culture 5.2 (1993): 335.
  11. Donald S. Sutton, “Ritual, History and the Films of Zhang Yimou.” East-West Film Journal 8.2 (1994): pp. 34-37.
  12. David L. Hall and Roger T. Ames. Thinking Through Confucius. (Albany: SUNY Press, 1987), p. 85; Confucius. The Analects of Confucius. Trans. Arthur Waley. (London : Allen & Unwin, 1938)
  13. Shuen-Fu Lin. “Ritual and Narrative Structure in Ju-lin Wai-shih” in Chinese Narrative: Critical and Theoretical Essays, Andrew Plaks, ed. (Princeton: Princeton UP, 1977) pp. 256-7.
  14. Mayfair Mei-hui Yang. Gifts, Favors and Banquets: The Art of Social Relationships in China. (Ithaca: Cornell UP, 1994) p. 192.
  15. Liyan Qin, “Transmedia Strategies of Appropriation and Visualization: The Case of Zhang Yimou’s Adaptation of Novels in His Early Films” in Art, Politics, and Commerce in Chinese Cinema, Ying Zhu and Stanley Rosen, eds. (Hong Kong: Hong Kong UP, 2010) pp.169.
  16. Michel Foucault. The History of Sexuality. Vol. 1. Trans. Robert Hurley. (New York: Vintage, 1980) p. 145-47.
  17. Mayfair Mei-hui Yang. Gifts, Favors and Banquets: The Art of Social Relationships in China. (Ithaca: Cornell UP, 1994) p. 177-78.
  18. Shelly Kracier, “Allegory and Ambiguity in Zhang Yimou’s Shanghai Triad,” Cineaction 42 (1996): 17.
  19. Mayfair Mei-hui Yang. Gifts, Favors and Banquets: The Art of Social Relationships in China. (Ithaca: Cornell UP, 1994) p. 43.
  20. Mayfair Mei-hui Yang. Gifts, Favors and Banquets: The Art of Social Relationships in China. (Ithaca: Cornell UP, 1994).
  21. William A. Callahan, “Gender, Ideology, Nation: Judou in the Cultural Politics of China,” East-West Film Journal 7.1 (1993): pp. 52-80; Maryann Farquhar, “Oedipality in Red Sorghum and Judou,” Cinemas 3.2-3 (1993): pp. 60-86; Maria Garcia, “Review of Raise the Red Lantern,” Films in Review (May-June 1992): pp.193-94; Raymond Younis, “Review of Dahong Denglong Gao Gao GuaCinema Papers (Oct 1992), 50-51.
  22. Mayfair Mei-hui Yang. Gifts, Favors and Banquets: The Art of Social Relationships in China. (Ithaca: Cornell UP, 1994), p. 229.
  23. Andrew Parker and Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, “Introduction: Performativity and Performance,” in Performativity and Performance, Andrew Parker and Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, eds. (New York: Routledge, 1995) pp. 1-2.
  24. James L. Watson, “The Structure of Chinese Funerary Rites: Elementary Forms, Ritual Sequence and the Primacy of Performance” in Death Ritual in Late Imperial and Modern China, James L. Watson and Evelyn Rawski, eds. (Los Angeles: U of California P, 1990) p. 4; Jacques Derrida, “Signature Event Context” Limited Inc.  Trans. Samuel Weber and Jeffrey Mehlman. (Evanston: Northwestern University Press, 1988) pp. 13,17.
  25. Victor Turner. From Ritual to Theatre: The Human Seriousness of Play. (New York: PAJ, 1982, p. 22; Driver, Tom F. The Magic of Ritual: Our Need for Liberating Rites that Transform Our Lives and Our Communities. (New York: Harper, 1991), p. 94.
  26. James L. Watson, “The Structure of Chinese Funerary Rites: Elementary Forms, Ritual Sequence and the Primacy of Performance” in Death Ritual in Late Imperial and Modern China, James L. Watson and Evelyn Rawski, eds. (Los Angeles: U of California P, 1990) p. 4.
  27. Austin, John L. How to do Things with Words. (Oxford: Clarendon, 1975).
  28. Judith Butler. Bodies that Matter: On the Discursive Limits of Sex. (New York: Routledge, 1993); Judith Butler, “Performance Acts and Gender Constitution: An Essay in Phenomenology and Feminist Theory” in Performing Feminisms: Feminist Critical Theory and Theatre, Sue-Ellen Case, ed. (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins UP, 1990), pp. 270-82.
  29. Jacques Derrida, “Signature Event Context” Limited Inc.  Trans. Samuel Weber and Jeffrey Mehlman. (Evanston: Northwestern University Press, 1988) pp. 17.
  30. Judith Butler. Bodies that Matter: On the Discursive Limits of Sex. (New York: Routledge, 1993) pp. 225-27.  Emphases in original.
  31. James L. Watson, “Rites or Beliefs? The Construction of a Unified Culture in Late Imperial China” in China’s Quest for National Identity, Lowell Dittmer and Samuel Kim, eds. (Ithaca: Cornell UP, 1993) pp. 84.
  32. Baudrillard, Jean. Simulacra and Simulation. Trans. Sheila Faria Glaser (Ann Arbor: U of Michigan P, 1994).
  33. James L. Watson, “Rites or Beliefs? The Construction of a Unified Culture in Late Imperial China” in China’s Quest for National Identity, Lowell Dittmer and Samuel Kim, eds. (Ithaca: Cornell UP, 1993) pp. 80-103; James L. Watson, “The Structure of Chinese Funerary Rites: Elementary Forms, Ritual Sequence and the Primacy of Performance” in Death Ritual in Late Imperial and Modern China, James L. Watson and Evelyn Rawski, eds. (Los Angeles: U of California P, 1990) pp. 3-19.
  34. Donald S. Sutton, “Ritual, History and the Films of Zhang Yimou.” East-West Film Journal 8.2 (1994): pp. 32.
  35. Jeanette Paulson, “Introduction: Hawaii International Film Festival Salutes Zhang Yimou,” Cinemaya 30 (Autumn 1995): p. 46.
  36. Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak and Sneja Gunew, “Questions of Multiculturalism” in The Cultural Studies Reader. Simon During, ed. (London: Routledge, 1993) p. 195.
  37. Dai Qing, “Raised Eyebrows for Raise the Red Lantern,” Public Culture 5.2 (1993): 333-37.
  38. Rey Chow. Primitive Passions: Visuality, Sexuality, Ethnography and Contemporary Chinese Cinema (New York: Columbia University Press, 1995), p. 59.
  39. Dai Qing, “Raised Eyebrows for Raise the Red Lantern,” Public Culture 5.2 (1993): 333-37.
  40. Rey Chow. Primitive Passions: Visuality, Sexuality, Ethnography and Contemporary Chinese Cinema (New York: Columbia University Press, 1995), p. 56.
  41. Felicia Chan. Cosmopolitan Cinema: Cross-Cultural Encounters and East Asian Film. (New York: I.B.Tauris, 2017).
  42. Jie Li, “From Auto-ethnography to Autobiography: Representations of the Past in Contemporary Chinese Cinema.” Senses of Cinema 45 (2007), http://sensesofcinema.com/2007/feature-articles/chinese-cinema-representations-past

About The Author

Radha O’Meara is lecturer in Screenwriting in the School of Culture and Communication at the University of Melbourne. Dr O’Meara combines creative practice in screenwriting with research into screen cultures, screen industries and screen aesthetics.