The Idea-Image: Conceptualizing Landscape in Recent Martial Arts Movies

Mary Farquhar

in Chinese Ecocinema

Published by Hong Kong University Press

Published in print December 2009 | ISBN: 9789622090866
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9789882206724 | DOI:
The Idea-Image: Conceptualizing Landscape in Recent Martial Arts Movies

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This chapter presents a new way of looking at landscapes in twenty-first-century martial arts blockbusters, primarily through a discussion of landscapes in Zhang Yimou's Hero. It argues that martial arts landscapes are both art and artifice, visualized by the filmmakers and realized through film technologies, which include digitization. It details the conceptual framework for analyzing cinematic landscapes. The concept at the core of this framework is the “idea-image,” a centuries-old Chinese way of conceiving, creating, and responding to landscape in traditional Chinese painting. This concept of the idea-image is then applied to Hero's landscapes. It discusses, in turn, the concept of tianxia (“all [land] under heaven”) at the heart of the film, the use of color to both structure the film and convey a mood, and the film's transformation of locations into landscapes through digitization.

Keywords: martial arts; Zhang Yimou; Hero; digitization; cinematic landscapes; idea-image; landscapes; tianxia

Chapter.  7686 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Film

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