Seen from a Western perspective, contemporary Chinese cinema seems to be characterized by two interrelated dimensions: a positive tendency to formal experimentation and a stimulating — and maybe symptomatic — obsession with issues related to time. The purpose of my paper is to investigate the relationship between these two features utilizing a comparative approach. Time as an aesthetic object pervades Chinese cinema across genres and atmospheres, from drama to comedy, from thriller to documentary. Despite the differences between these kinds of movies, the theme conceals a sort of common key, which can be used to interpret Chinese culture and tastes. I will attempt to provide the semiotic schemes for comprehending how time is quantitatively and qualitatively created in a corpus of movies, also comparing them to their ideal counterparts in Western cinematography in order to pinpoint the reciprocal formal specificities. Mountains May Depart (山河故人, Jia Zhangke, 2015) splits itself in a sort of dialectic between past, present and future, and reflects on the trauma of separation; Black Coal, Thin Ice (白日焰火, Diao Yinan, 2014) combines the feel of noir movies with the materiality of time; A Touch of Sin (天注定, Jia Zhangke, 2013) juxtaposes four different space–times, uniting them with a violence which is highly metaphorical, as happens, for example, in the postmodern splatter of Quentin Tarantino; Mrs. Fang (Wang Bing, 2017) follows in a documentary frame the life of a woman affected by Alzheimer’s disease, with a slow rhythm which clashes with the frenzy of modern life, configuring two times that interface by reflecting on the importance of memory. At the end of my paper the peculiarity of time in contemporary Chinese cinema will emerge, both from a stylistic and a symbolic point of view.

Ellipses and Amnesias. Poetics and Figures of Time in Contemporary Chinese Cinema

Bruno Surace
2019

Abstract

Seen from a Western perspective, contemporary Chinese cinema seems to be characterized by two interrelated dimensions: a positive tendency to formal experimentation and a stimulating — and maybe symptomatic — obsession with issues related to time. The purpose of my paper is to investigate the relationship between these two features utilizing a comparative approach. Time as an aesthetic object pervades Chinese cinema across genres and atmospheres, from drama to comedy, from thriller to documentary. Despite the differences between these kinds of movies, the theme conceals a sort of common key, which can be used to interpret Chinese culture and tastes. I will attempt to provide the semiotic schemes for comprehending how time is quantitatively and qualitatively created in a corpus of movies, also comparing them to their ideal counterparts in Western cinematography in order to pinpoint the reciprocal formal specificities. Mountains May Depart (山河故人, Jia Zhangke, 2015) splits itself in a sort of dialectic between past, present and future, and reflects on the trauma of separation; Black Coal, Thin Ice (白日焰火, Diao Yinan, 2014) combines the feel of noir movies with the materiality of time; A Touch of Sin (天注定, Jia Zhangke, 2013) juxtaposes four different space–times, uniting them with a violence which is highly metaphorical, as happens, for example, in the postmodern splatter of Quentin Tarantino; Mrs. Fang (Wang Bing, 2017) follows in a documentary frame the life of a woman affected by Alzheimer’s disease, with a slow rhythm which clashes with the frenzy of modern life, configuring two times that interface by reflecting on the importance of memory. At the end of my paper the peculiarity of time in contemporary Chinese cinema will emerge, both from a stylistic and a symbolic point of view.
The Waterfall and the Fountain. Comparative Semiotic Essays on Contemporary Arts in China
Aracne Editrice
I saggi di Lexia
34
303
328
978-88-255-2787-2
ellipses, amnesias, cinascape, chinese cinema, chinese movies, jia zhangke, diao yinan, wang bing, film semiotics, semiotics of cinema, china
Bruno Surace
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/2318/1714244
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