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Chinese EcocinemaIn the Age of Environmental Challenge$
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Sheldon H. Lu and Jiayan Mi

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9789622090866

Published to Hong Kong Scholarship Online: September 2011

DOI: 10.5790/hongkong/9789622090866.001.0001

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Framing Ambient Unheimlich: Ecoggedon, Ecological Unconscious, and Water Pathology in New Chinese Cinema

Framing Ambient Unheimlich: Ecoggedon, Ecological Unconscious, and Water Pathology in New Chinese Cinema

Chapter:
(p.17) 1 Framing Ambient Unheimlich: Ecoggedon, Ecological Unconscious, and Water Pathology in New Chinese Cinema
Source:
Chinese Ecocinema
Author(s):

Jiayan Mi

Publisher:
Hong Kong University Press
DOI:10.5790/hongkong/9789622090866.003.0002

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

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