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Remapping the SinophoneThe Cultural Production of Chinese-Language Cinema in Singapore and Malaya before and during the Cold War$
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Wai-Siam Hee

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9789888528035

Published to Hong Kong Scholarship Online: September 2020

DOI: 10.5790/hongkong/9789888528035.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM HONG KONG SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.hongkong.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Hong Kong University Press, 2021. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in HKSO for personal use.date: 19 September 2021

Malayan Chinese Popular Memory

Malayan Chinese Popular Memory

The Shaw Brothers Chinese-Language Films Directed by Wu Cun in Singapore

(p.58) 2 Malayan Chinese Popular Memory
Remapping the Sinophone

Wai-Siam Hee

Hong Kong University Press

The second chapter examines three Chinese-language films shot in Singapore by mainland Chinese director Wu Cun after the Second World War. Through close reading of these filmic texts, and reportage and discussions of them in the 1940s’ Malayan cinema tabloids Yule and Dianyingquan, this chapter aims to reconstruct the popular memory of ‘Mahua (Malaysian Chinese) Cinemas’ and their relationship with ‘Mahua Literature’ and Chinese film culture. It also probes the naming of ‘Mahua Cinema’ in the temporal context of these films and how they represent post-war Malayan Chinese female migrants, loyalists, and foreigners, with reference to historical materials on the early migration of Chinese females to S.E. Asia. This chapter also critically employs relevant Cold War Singaporean and Malaysian theories to analyse and compare the Chineseness and political groups in these films. All three films were produced after the war, when the Malayan Communist Party, which debated aggressively about the ‘uniqueness of Malayan Chinese literature and art’, was flourishing. Besides attempting to portray the real Singapore-Malayan local colour in that time and place as advocated by the ‘uniqueness of Malaysian Chinese literature and art’, Wu Cun and his local production partners, the Shaw Brothers Company, represented the left-wing practice of Malayan Communist Party guerrillas and their supporters, which had been suppressed by mainstream historical discourse.

Keywords:   Chineseness, Popular Memory, Shaw Brothers, Wu Cun, Malayan Communist Party, Mahua Literature, Mahua Cinemas

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