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Adapted for the Screen: The Cultural Politics of Modern Chinese Fiction and Film (review)

Adapted for the Screen: The Cultural Politics of Modern Chinese Fiction and Film (review) 328 ChinaReviewInternational:Vol.17,No.3,2010 differencebetween"theFive"(Chinese)and"theFour"(West),thatdoomsthe Beaux-ArtsasamismatchforChinesearchitecture. Thearticlescollectedinthisbookrepresentawidespectruminthecurrent scholarshiponmodernChinesearchitectureandurbanism.Ingeneral,articles by Chineseauthorsarerichinstatisticaldataandnewmaterial,whilethoseby WesternorWestern-trainedauthorsarecharacterizedbynewperspectivesand freshinterpretations.Theterm"Beaux-Arts"inthebooktitleisgeneralized,asitis appliedtoalmostanyeclecticisminarchitecture.Indeed,somearticleshavelittle todowiththeBeaux-Arts(e.g.,Fan,Wagner,andZhang).Ontheotherhand, such ageneralizationallowstheeditorstocreateanentirepanoramicpictureof twentieth-centuryChinesearchitectureandcityplanninginasinglevolume withoutsacrificingdetailsandtodisplaydiversifiedapproachesinthereadingof Chinesearchitectureandtherecentpast.Inthissense,andwithoutrenderingthe contributionsofothertraditionstrivial,itisagoodgeneralization. ShuishanYu Shuishan Yu is an assistant professor of art history at Oakland University, specializing in Chinese architecture and Asian arts. Hsiu-ChuangDeppman.Adapted for the Screen: The Cultural Politics of Modern Chinese Fiction and Film.Honolulu:UniversityofHawai`iPress, 2010.243pp.Hardcover$56.00,isbn978-0-8248-3373-2.Paperback$27.00, isbn978-0-8248-3454-8. TheremarkableachievementofChinesefilmdirectorsinadaptingfictionintofilm haslongchallengedtheboundarybetweenChineseliteratureandcinemaastwo seeminglyseparateacademicfieldsofstudy.Fewbooks,however,haveoffereda comprehensiveandin-depthcomparativestudyofChineseliteraryworksand theircinematicadaptations.Hsiu-ChuangDeppman'sAdapted for the Screen: The Cultural Politics of Chinese Fiction and Filmfillsthisgap.Astheauthornotes,one inherentchallengeofstudyingChineseadaptationsliesin"theperilousriskof mixingtwoinfinities"(p.2),namelythatChineseliteratureandcinemaareboth producedinarichintertextualfabric.ButDeppmandoesnotseek,asanumberof Westernadaptationtheoristshave,toestablishuniversalrulesthatareapplicable cross-text,cross-culturalcontext,andcross-media.Instead,shefullyacknowledges the"empiricalmessinessofadaptation"andadopts"anapproachthatisresponsive, © 2012 by University of Hawai`i Press Reviews 329 descriptive,andexpostfacto"(p.3).Thisflexibleanalyticalstrategyallows Deppmantostructureheranalysesofadaptationsarounddifferentsetsofquestionsthataresensitivetothehistoricalcontexts,genericelements,auteurial preferences,andgenderpoliticsthatvarygreatlyfromcasetocase.Asaresult, ratherthanunderminingDeppman'stheoreticalmodel,theinfinitepossibilities emanatingfromtheChineseadaptationprovideafertilegroundforhersophisticatedreadings,revealingnuancedanddiversecultural-politicaldiscourses. Inherfirstchapter,DeppmananalyzesWangDulu'snovelCrouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (1941)andtheeponymousfilmadaptation(2000)directedbyAng Lee.SheillustratesthesimilaritiesanddifferencesinWang'sandLee'sversions throughacloseexaminationoftheadaptationinthreeintertextualnetworks: martialartsfantasiescenteringuponthejianghuunderworldanditsmoralpriorities;Wang'snonconventionalmartialartsnarrativesfilledwithFreudiantensions amongtheid,ego,andsuperego;andLee'sfilmsthat"systematically[explore] individualfreedomandsocialconstraints"(p.13).Inparticular,Deppmanfocuses onWang'sandLee'scharacterizationsoftheprotagonistJen.Shearguesthatboth WangandLeeportrayJenasaparadoxicalcharacterwho"bothprotectsand transgressestherulesthatgovernhersocialstatus"(p.22).However,whileWang's Jenisacalculatingindividualistwhoeventuallyescapesfromsocialandgender constraintsthroughmeticulousandpragmaticplanning,Leeturnsherintoa romanticsymbolofthecollective"desiresofmanywomen"(p.15)toventureintoa utopiandreamwhere"mundaneconcerns,rules,boundaries,anddiscontents becomeirrelevant"(p.32).Basedonthiscomparison,Deppmanoffersacoherent andbalancedclosereadingofLee'scontroversialadaptationofthefinalscene,in whichJenleapsoffthebridge. Deppmancontinuestodiscussgenderpoliticsinadaptationinchapter2, focusingonSuTong'snovellaWives and Concubines (1990)anditsfilmadaptation Raise the Red Lantern (1991),directedbyZhangYimou.Inthiscase,sheaccurately observesthatwomen'sstrugglesinbothversionsofthestoryaremetaphorically connectedtoChina'squestformodernity.Deppmancloselyexaminesthe"differenttitles,symbolicstrategies,andnarrativeemphases"(p.40)inthenovellaand thefilmandclearlyrevealsthedistinctvisionsofChinesemodernitySuand Zhangproduce.ShearguesthatZhang'smovieturnstheagingpatriarchyofSu's novella,constantlydisturbedandthreatenedbythe"cacophonyoffeminine" (p. 40),intoan"irreversiblegenderhierarchy"(p.53)inwhich"theobjectification ofwomen'ssexualityintimatesacriticismofChina'slackofprogress"(p.60). Deppman'sanalysismakeswayforfurtherexplorationofthisadaptationinintertextualandhistoricalcontexts.Forexample,herapproachprovidesaframework foranalyzingtherelationshipbetweenChen'shouseholdandthe"ironhouse" metaphorbyLuXun,whosewritingstronglyinfluencedSuandZhang'sgeneration.ThisintertextualexaminationwouldaddtoDeppman'sanalysisofZhang's roof,wheredefianceproduceselusivehopebuteventuallymerelyintensifies 330 ChinaReviewInternational:Vol.17,No.3,2010 punishment,andwouldleadtoabroadercomparisonbetweentheMayFourth and post­CulturalRevolutionintellectualsandartists.Deppman'sframework also encouragescomparingZhang'sconstructionofunchallengeablepatriarchal systemsinRaise the Red LanternandJu Dou(1990)withhiscelebrationofthe rebelliousspiritandmatriarchalpowerinRed Sorghum(1987).Thissharpcontrast begsforahistoricalinvestigationofhowZhanginparticular,andChineseintellectualsandartistsingeneral,wereimpactedbytheturbulenceattheturnofthe decade. Chapter3analyzesEileenChang'sshortstory"RedRoseandWhiteRose" (1944)andStanleyKwan'sfilmRed Rose/White Rose(1994).Thischapteraddsyet anotherlayertothediscussionofgenderpoliticsinadaptations.Deppmanpoints outthatgenderconflictsareinterwovenwithracialtensionsinboththeshort storyandthefilm.ChangandKwanmocktheessentialistnotionofnational identityand"affirmamorenuancedapproachtoculturalhybridity"(p.96) throughtheirpresentationsofthecrisesoftheChinesemaleauthority.YetKwan's adaptationprioritizesgenderoverrace,whicharetwoequallyprominentthemes inChang'soriginalstory.DeppmanseesKwan'sadaptationasanattempttotransferChang'sstorytoagenderedallegoryofpoliticalissuesbetweenHongKongand China. Fromchapter4tochapter6,Deppmandealswiththreecasesofadaptation thatallestablishunconventionalrelationshipsbetweencinemaandliterature. Chapter4analyzesWongKar-wai'sfilmadaptationofLiuYichang's1972novella IntersectionintoIn the Mood for Love(2000).Thefilm"hasverylittleplot"andthe novella"almostnoneatall,"andthetwotell"completelydifferentstories"(p.98). Chapter5focusesonDaiSijie,whoplaysararelyseendoubleroleinliteratureand cinemabyadaptinghisownnovelBalzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress (2000) intofilmin2002.Chapter6examinesanexceptiontothe"one-waystreet"(p.149) fromliteraturetocinemainChineseadaptation:ZhuTianwen's1986fictional adaptationofHouXiaoxian'sfilmA Time to Live, A Time to Die(1985).Deppman's expostfactoapproachprovestobeparticularlyproductivefortheexplorationof thesedistinctivecasesthatchallengeexistingnormsofadaptation.Inchapter4, shelooksbeyondplotandnarrativeandadaptivelyfocusesheranalysisonthe formalandhistoricalwaysthroughwhichWong'sfilmintersectswithLiu'snovella. Inchapter5,thankstoherattentiontoDai'suniqueintermediarypositionbetween notonlyliteratureandcinemabutalsoChineseandFrenchcultures,Deppmanis abletorevealthecomplexitiesthatarecommonlyoverlookedbytheEurocentric interpretationsofDai'sworks.ShearguesthatDai'snovelandfilmadaptationare "bestunderstoodasanattempttocreateathirdculture,thatis,aboth-andand neither-nor,East-Westmixture"(p.168).Inchapter6,themixed"DNAoffilmand literature"(p.153)foundinHou'sfilmandZhu'sfictionaladaptationinspires Deppmantoofferinnovativeanalysesofliterarylanguageinfilmandcinematic http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png China Review International University of Hawai'I Press

Adapted for the Screen: The Cultural Politics of Modern Chinese Fiction and Film (review)

China Review International , Volume 17 (3) – Jun 15, 2010

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Abstract

328 ChinaReviewInternational:Vol.17,No.3,2010 differencebetween"theFive"(Chinese)and"theFour"(West),thatdoomsthe Beaux-ArtsasamismatchforChinesearchitecture. Thearticlescollectedinthisbookrepresentawidespectruminthecurrent scholarshiponmodernChinesearchitectureandurbanism.Ingeneral,articles by Chineseauthorsarerichinstatisticaldataandnewmaterial,whilethoseby WesternorWestern-trainedauthorsarecharacterizedbynewperspectivesand freshinterpretations.Theterm"Beaux-Arts"inthebooktitleisgeneralized,asitis appliedtoalmostanyeclecticisminarchitecture.Indeed,somearticleshavelittle todowiththeBeaux-Arts(e.g.,Fan,Wagner,andZhang).Ontheotherhand, such ageneralizationallowstheeditorstocreateanentirepanoramicpictureof twentieth-centuryChinesearchitectureandcityplanninginasinglevolume withoutsacrificingdetailsandtodisplaydiversifiedapproachesinthereadingof Chinesearchitectureandtherecentpast.Inthissense,andwithoutrenderingthe contributionsofothertraditionstrivial,itisagoodgeneralization. ShuishanYu Shuishan Yu is an assistant professor of art history at Oakland University, specializing in Chinese architecture and Asian arts. Hsiu-ChuangDeppman.Adapted for the Screen: The Cultural Politics of Modern Chinese Fiction and Film.Honolulu:UniversityofHawai`iPress, 2010.243pp.Hardcover$56.00,isbn978-0-8248-3373-2.Paperback$27.00, isbn978-0-8248-3454-8. TheremarkableachievementofChinesefilmdirectorsinadaptingfictionintofilm haslongchallengedtheboundarybetweenChineseliteratureandcinemaastwo seeminglyseparateacademicfieldsofstudy.Fewbooks,however,haveoffereda comprehensiveandin-depthcomparativestudyofChineseliteraryworksand theircinematicadaptations.Hsiu-ChuangDeppman'sAdapted for the Screen: The Cultural Politics of Chinese Fiction and Filmfillsthisgap.Astheauthornotes,one inherentchallengeofstudyingChineseadaptationsliesin"theperilousriskof mixingtwoinfinities"(p.2),namelythatChineseliteratureandcinemaareboth producedinarichintertextualfabric.ButDeppmandoesnotseek,asanumberof Westernadaptationtheoristshave,toestablishuniversalrulesthatareapplicable cross-text,cross-culturalcontext,andcross-media.Instead,shefullyacknowledges the"empiricalmessinessofadaptation"andadopts"anapproachthatisresponsive, © 2012 by University of Hawai`i Press Reviews 329 descriptive,andexpostfacto"(p.3).Thisflexibleanalyticalstrategyallows Deppmantostructureheranalysesofadaptationsarounddifferentsetsofquestionsthataresensitivetothehistoricalcontexts,genericelements,auteurial preferences,andgenderpoliticsthatvarygreatlyfromcasetocase.Asaresult, ratherthanunderminingDeppman'stheoreticalmodel,theinfinitepossibilities emanatingfromtheChineseadaptationprovideafertilegroundforhersophisticatedreadings,revealingnuancedanddiversecultural-politicaldiscourses. Inherfirstchapter,DeppmananalyzesWangDulu'snovelCrouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (1941)andtheeponymousfilmadaptation(2000)directedbyAng Lee.SheillustratesthesimilaritiesanddifferencesinWang'sandLee'sversions throughacloseexaminationoftheadaptationinthreeintertextualnetworks: martialartsfantasiescenteringuponthejianghuunderworldanditsmoralpriorities;Wang'snonconventionalmartialartsnarrativesfilledwithFreudiantensions amongtheid,ego,andsuperego;andLee'sfilmsthat"systematically[explore] individualfreedomandsocialconstraints"(p.13).Inparticular,Deppmanfocuses onWang'sandLee'scharacterizationsoftheprotagonistJen.Shearguesthatboth WangandLeeportrayJenasaparadoxicalcharacterwho"bothprotectsand transgressestherulesthatgovernhersocialstatus"(p.22).However,whileWang's Jenisacalculatingindividualistwhoeventuallyescapesfromsocialandgender constraintsthroughmeticulousandpragmaticplanning,Leeturnsherintoa romanticsymbolofthecollective"desiresofmanywomen"(p.15)toventureintoa utopiandreamwhere"mundaneconcerns,rules,boundaries,anddiscontents becomeirrelevant"(p.32).Basedonthiscomparison,Deppmanoffersacoherent andbalancedclosereadingofLee'scontroversialadaptationofthefinalscene,in whichJenleapsoffthebridge. Deppmancontinuestodiscussgenderpoliticsinadaptationinchapter2, focusingonSuTong'snovellaWives and Concubines (1990)anditsfilmadaptation Raise the Red Lantern (1991),directedbyZhangYimou.Inthiscase,sheaccurately observesthatwomen'sstrugglesinbothversionsofthestoryaremetaphorically connectedtoChina'squestformodernity.Deppmancloselyexaminesthe"differenttitles,symbolicstrategies,andnarrativeemphases"(p.40)inthenovellaand thefilmandclearlyrevealsthedistinctvisionsofChinesemodernitySuand Zhangproduce.ShearguesthatZhang'smovieturnstheagingpatriarchyofSu's novella,constantlydisturbedandthreatenedbythe"cacophonyoffeminine" (p. 40),intoan"irreversiblegenderhierarchy"(p.53)inwhich"theobjectification ofwomen'ssexualityintimatesacriticismofChina'slackofprogress"(p.60). Deppman'sanalysismakeswayforfurtherexplorationofthisadaptationinintertextualandhistoricalcontexts.Forexample,herapproachprovidesaframework foranalyzingtherelationshipbetweenChen'shouseholdandthe"ironhouse" metaphorbyLuXun,whosewritingstronglyinfluencedSuandZhang'sgeneration.ThisintertextualexaminationwouldaddtoDeppman'sanalysisofZhang's roof,wheredefianceproduceselusivehopebuteventuallymerelyintensifies 330 ChinaReviewInternational:Vol.17,No.3,2010 punishment,andwouldleadtoabroadercomparisonbetweentheMayFourth and post­CulturalRevolutionintellectualsandartists.Deppman'sframework also encouragescomparingZhang'sconstructionofunchallengeablepatriarchal systemsinRaise the Red LanternandJu Dou(1990)withhiscelebrationofthe rebelliousspiritandmatriarchalpowerinRed Sorghum(1987).Thissharpcontrast begsforahistoricalinvestigationofhowZhanginparticular,andChineseintellectualsandartistsingeneral,wereimpactedbytheturbulenceattheturnofthe decade. Chapter3analyzesEileenChang'sshortstory"RedRoseandWhiteRose" (1944)andStanleyKwan'sfilmRed Rose/White Rose(1994).Thischapteraddsyet anotherlayertothediscussionofgenderpoliticsinadaptations.Deppmanpoints outthatgenderconflictsareinterwovenwithracialtensionsinboththeshort storyandthefilm.ChangandKwanmocktheessentialistnotionofnational identityand"affirmamorenuancedapproachtoculturalhybridity"(p.96) throughtheirpresentationsofthecrisesoftheChinesemaleauthority.YetKwan's adaptationprioritizesgenderoverrace,whicharetwoequallyprominentthemes inChang'soriginalstory.DeppmanseesKwan'sadaptationasanattempttotransferChang'sstorytoagenderedallegoryofpoliticalissuesbetweenHongKongand China. Fromchapter4tochapter6,Deppmandealswiththreecasesofadaptation thatallestablishunconventionalrelationshipsbetweencinemaandliterature. Chapter4analyzesWongKar-wai'sfilmadaptationofLiuYichang's1972novella IntersectionintoIn the Mood for Love(2000).Thefilm"hasverylittleplot"andthe novella"almostnoneatall,"andthetwotell"completelydifferentstories"(p.98). Chapter5focusesonDaiSijie,whoplaysararelyseendoubleroleinliteratureand cinemabyadaptinghisownnovelBalzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress (2000) intofilmin2002.Chapter6examinesanexceptiontothe"one-waystreet"(p.149) fromliteraturetocinemainChineseadaptation:ZhuTianwen's1986fictional adaptationofHouXiaoxian'sfilmA Time to Live, A Time to Die(1985).Deppman's expostfactoapproachprovestobeparticularlyproductivefortheexplorationof thesedistinctivecasesthatchallengeexistingnormsofadaptation.Inchapter4, shelooksbeyondplotandnarrativeandadaptivelyfocusesheranalysisonthe formalandhistoricalwaysthroughwhichWong'sfilmintersectswithLiu'snovella. Inchapter5,thankstoherattentiontoDai'suniqueintermediarypositionbetween notonlyliteratureandcinemabutalsoChineseandFrenchcultures,Deppmanis abletorevealthecomplexitiesthatarecommonlyoverlookedbytheEurocentric interpretationsofDai'sworks.ShearguesthatDai'snovelandfilmadaptationare "bestunderstoodasanattempttocreateathirdculture,thatis,aboth-andand neither-nor,East-Westmixture"(p.168).Inchapter6,themixed"DNAoffilmand literature"(p.153)foundinHou'sfilmandZhu'sfictionaladaptationinspires Deppmantoofferinnovativeanalysesofliterarylanguageinfilmandcinematic

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China Review InternationalUniversity of Hawai'I Press

Published: Jun 15, 2010

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