Love in a Changing Society of the Past Half a Century: Suzhou River as a Historical Allegory

Love in a Changing Society of the Past Half a Century: Suzhou River as a Historical Allegory Suzhou River , a 2000 film directed by Lou Ye, explores several tragic love stories set in Shanghai around the transitional period of 1980s and 1990s. Many critics have praised its technical excellence, yet generally they have not paid sufficient attention to its subject matter. This paper departs from previous interpretations of the film, which have tended to be premised on superficial readings of the plotline, and contends that the work constitutes a poignant socio-political critique, which is conveyed through the construction of differing love stories set against a changing socio-cultural landscape. The past and the present incarnations of the cardinal female protagonist—who can be understood as a symbol for the average Chinese (woman)—suggest the fact that the society has transformed dramatically across the three disparate eras of the past half a century; accordingly, the identity of the Chinese also shifts tremendously. In this way, Lou Ye in effect constructs a diachronic re-presentation of the changing social mores and varied cultural ethos in a synchronic structure, which is subject to be read as an ingenious historical allegory. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Frontiers of Literary Studies in China Brill

Love in a Changing Society of the Past Half a Century: Suzhou River as a Historical Allegory

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Publisher
Brill
Copyright
Copyright 2013 by Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden, The Netherlands
ISSN
1673-7318
eISSN
1673-7423
D.O.I.
10.3868/s010-002-013-0042-3
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Suzhou River , a 2000 film directed by Lou Ye, explores several tragic love stories set in Shanghai around the transitional period of 1980s and 1990s. Many critics have praised its technical excellence, yet generally they have not paid sufficient attention to its subject matter. This paper departs from previous interpretations of the film, which have tended to be premised on superficial readings of the plotline, and contends that the work constitutes a poignant socio-political critique, which is conveyed through the construction of differing love stories set against a changing socio-cultural landscape. The past and the present incarnations of the cardinal female protagonist—who can be understood as a symbol for the average Chinese (woman)—suggest the fact that the society has transformed dramatically across the three disparate eras of the past half a century; accordingly, the identity of the Chinese also shifts tremendously. In this way, Lou Ye in effect constructs a diachronic re-presentation of the changing social mores and varied cultural ethos in a synchronic structure, which is subject to be read as an ingenious historical allegory.

Journal

Frontiers of Literary Studies in ChinaBrill

Published: Jan 1, 2013

Keywords: Suzhou River ; Humanity; synchronic structure; diachronic development; historical allegory; identity; class differentiation

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