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Failure of Root-Searching in Chen Kaige

  • Hong Zeng
Part of the Semiotics and Popular Culture book series (SEMPC)

Abstract

This chapter examines Chen Kaige’s cultural exile in the national root-searching movement. Shortly after the Cultural Revolution, the root-searching movement was one of the major movements during the cultural fever in the 1980s. The historical catastrophe created an artificial cultural blank that was eagerly filled in with the influx of Western ideologies. The philosophies of Arthur Schopenhauer and Friedrich Nietzsche, Existentialism, black humor, the theater of the absurd, the French new novel, the stream-of-consciousness novel … these schools of philosophy and literature that had brewed in the West for a hundred years poured into China in ten short years. The influx of Western ideologies also created an identity crisis among Chinese intellectuals. Flooded by Western thoughts, intellectuals began to ponder the indigenous identity of Chinese civilization. Thus, countering the movement of westernization, a root-searching impulse appear as a way of rediscovering the ancient indigenous Chinese culture before the intervention of the May Fourth movement, communist ideology, and the Cultural Revolution. During the root-searching movement, Confucianism, Neo-Confucianism, Taoism, and Zen Buddhism were among the most examined ancient Chinese thought.

Keywords

Cultural Revolution Historical Reality Chinese Natural Philosophy Army Officer Willful Ignorance 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Notes

  1. 1.
    Rey Chow, Primitive Passions: Visuality, Sexuality, Ethnography, and Contemporary Chinese Cinema (New York: Columbia University Press, 1995).Google Scholar
  2. 3.
    Dai Jinhua, Cinema and Desire (London: Verso, 2002), 27.Google Scholar
  3. 4.
    See An Jingfu, “The Pain of a Half Taoist: Taoist Principles, Chinese Landscape Painting, and King of the Children,” in Cinematic Landscape, ed. Linda Ehrlich and David Desser (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1992), 117–127.Google Scholar
  4. 5.
    Chen Kaige. Wo de qingchun huiyilu: Chen Kaige Zizhuan [Memoir of my youth: autobiography of Chen Kaige], vol. 1 (Beijing: Zhongguo renmin daxue chubanshe, 2009), 144.Google Scholar
  5. 9.
    Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching: An New English Version, translated by Stephen Mitchell (Harper Perennial Modern Classics 2006).Google Scholar
  6. 10.
    See Wendy Larson, “The Concubine and the Figure of History: Chen Kaige’s Farewell, My Concubine,” in Transnational Chinese Cinema, edited by Sheldon Lu (Hawaii: University of Hawaii Press, 1997).Google Scholar
  7. 11.
    Chuang Tzu, Complete Works of Chuang Tzu (New York: Columbia University Press, 1968), 49.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Hong Zeng 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Hong Zeng

There are no affiliations available

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