Framing Ambient <i>Unheimlich</i>: Ecoggedon, Ecological Unconscious, and Water Pathology in New Chinese Cinema

Jiayan Mi

in Chinese Ecocinema

Published by Hong Kong University Press

Published in print December 2009 | ISBN: 9789622090866
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9789882206724 | DOI:
Framing Ambient Unheimlich: Ecoggedon, Ecological Unconscious, and Water Pathology in New Chinese Cinema

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This chapter examines the cultural, psychological, and political pathology in certain important mainland Chinese and Taiwanese films, by focusing on water as a site of contested signification. It examines the polysemic figure of water as a poignant articulation of “ambient unheimlich” or the cultural malaise, environmental dysfunctionality, and psychological anxiety emblematical of post-Mao mainland China and post-Miracle Taiwan. Films that engage water as a site of ecological imagination can be clustered into three groups, each addressing a crucial aspect of China's water-borne crisis: (1) shortage/scarcity/drought in Chen Kaige's Yellow Earth (1984), Wu Tianming's Old Well (1986), and Tsai Mingliang's The Wayward Cloud (2005); (2) toxification in Lou Ye's Suzhou River (2000), Tsai Mingliang's The River (1997), and The Hole (1998); and (3) colonization/disruption of water in Zhang Ming's Clouds over Wushan (1996) and Jia Zhangke's Still Life (2006).

Keywords: Chinese films; Taiwanese films; water; unheimlich; Yellow Earth; Old Well; Wayward Cloud; Suzhou River; The River; The Hole

Chapter.  9831 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Film

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