The Fifth Generation and the Youth of China

James Tweedie

in The Age of New Waves

Published in print September 2013 | ISBN: 9780199858286
Published online January 2014 | e-ISBN: 9780199367665 | DOI:
The Fifth Generation and the Youth of China

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Youth was one of the defining characteristics of the Chinese new wave directors, many of them classmates at the Beijing Film Academy who made films at an early age in distant outposts of the studio system. Newness, modernity, and youth are also prominent on screen, as young protagonists struggle against entrenched and stifling traditions. This chapter examines the portrayal of youth in Fifth Generation films and its role in their foreign and domestic reception. It places this young cinema within a longer history of Chinese film and underscores the difference between characters in the work of Chen Kaige or Zhang Yimou and the revolutionary youth in films from the “seventeen years” and Cultural Revolution. With particular attention to the transitional figure of Wu Tianming and the Zhang’s realist cinema of the 1990s, it argues that this attention to youth is accompanied by an urban turn in Chinese cinema.

Keywords: chinese new wave; china’s fifth generation; china’s fourth generation; globalization; cities; realism; Wu Tianming; Zhang Yimou

Chapter.  17498 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Literary Theory and Cultural Studies

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