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Title:Healthy realism: paradoxical aesthetics, ideology, and nation- building in Taiwan cinema 1964- 1982
Author(s):Chiang, Mei- Hsuan
Director of Research:Xu, Gary G.
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Xu, Gary G.
Doctoral Committee Member(s):Capino, Jose B.; Tierney, Robert T.; Chow, Kai-Wing
Department / Program:E. Asian Languages & Cultures
Discipline:E. Asian Languages & Cultures
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Degree:Ph.D.
Genre:Dissertation
Subject(s):Taiwan Cinema
Healthy Realism
melodrama
wenyi films
Bai Jingrui
Qiong Yao
anti- Japanese films
women in Taiwan
Abstract:This dissertation focuses on Healthy Realist Film Movement (jiankang xieshi dianying) and its influence on Taiwan cinema from 1964 to the rise of New Taiwan Cinema in 1982. Healthy Realism was first introduced to Taiwan film industry in 1964 by the Central Motion Picture Corporation (CMPC), a studio owned by the Chinese nationalist party, or the so- called Kuomintang (KMT). It claims lineage to postwar Italian Neorealist films, but purposely avoids realism’s dark and pessimistic themes. Current scholarship has often interpreted Healthy Realist Film as the KMT government’s propaganda tool; however, the historical approach tends to overlook the subversive voices and the melodramatic expressions exhibited in the actual film texts. Therefore, drawing on western melodrama study and feminist film theories, this project departs from previous scholarship to examine the melodramatic mode in Healthy Realist Film. It argues that the melodramatic mode was employed to reconstruct the postwar social order, and, at the same time, to provide an auto- critique of the cultural policies and social values proposed by the KMT government. This dissertation is consisted of four core chapters, each investigating the transformation of Healthy Realism at different stages during the 1960s and the 1970s. Chapter 2 traces the KMT government’s obsession of healthiness to the New Life Movement in the 1930s Shanghai. Using Bai Jingrui’s Lonely Seventeen (1967) as an example, the chapter shows that the KMT government’s healthy discourse is ultimately a patriarchal construction. Moreover, as in other early Healthy Realist Films, the eroticized female body on screen often contradicts with the government proposed “healthy” feminine norm. Chapter 3 and Chapter 4 study Healthy Realism’s shift to Healthy Variety- Show (jiankang zongyi) in 1968. Chapter 3 first maps out the historical background for the changes in Taiwan’s national economic and film industry in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Similar to Bai Jingrui’s The Bride and I (1969) and Goodbye Darling (1970), many films during the time question the government’s economic policy that is optimistically forward- looking, and the KMT’s reconciliation of traditional virtues for the sake of development and national economic. Chapter 4 examines romance films inspired by Qiong Yao’s novels, a genre encouraged by the government in the Healthy Variety- Show movement. It argues that the female worker boom and the rise of New Feminism in the early 1970s constituted the changes in the genre, which began to offer a subversive reading of woman’s traditional role in family, as manifested in Song Cunshou’s Life with Mother (1973) and Li Xing’s Mother and Daughter (1971). Chapter 5 discusses the anti- Japanese films made after Japan broke its diplomatic relation with Taiwan in 1972, such as Liu Jia- chang’s Victory (1976). The chapter reveals that the nationalist rhetoric and the hostile narrative towards Japan actually serve as a disguise for the KMT government’s growing diasporic anxieties in the 1970s. This project ends with a coda examining the afterlives of the melodramatic mode after Taiwan New Cinema, which deemphasizes and represses the melodramatic aesthetic.
Issue Date:2014-01-16
URI:http://hdl.handle.net/2142/46902
Rights Information:Copyright 2013 Mei- Hsuan Chiang
Date Available in IDEALS:2014-01-16
2016-01-16
Date Deposited:2013-12


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