From melodrama to Cantonese opera, from silents to 3D animated film, Remaking Chinese Cinema traces cross-Pacific film remaking over the last eight decades. Through the refractive prism of Hollywood, Shanghai, and Hong Kong, Yiman Wang revolutionizes our understanding of Chinese cinema as national cinema. Against the diffusion model of national cinema spreading from a central point—Shanghai in the Chinese case—she argues for a multilocal process of co-constitution and reconstitution. In this spirit, Wang analyzes how southern Chinese cinema (huanan dianying) morphed into Hong Kong cinema through transregional and trans-national interactions that also produced a vision of Chinese cinema.
Among the book's highlights are a rereading of The Goddess—one of the best-known silent Chinese films in the West—from the perspective of its wartime Mandarin-Cantonese remake; the excavation of a hybrid genre (the Western costume Cantonese opera film) inspired by Hollywood’s fantasy films of the 1930s and produced in Hong Kong well into the mid-twentieth century; and a rumination on Hollywood’s remake of Hong Kong's Infernal Affairs and the wholesale incorporation of "Chinese elements" in Kung Fu Panda 2.
Positing a structural analogy between the utopic vision, the national cinema, and the location-specific collective subject position, the author traces their shared urge to infinitesimally approach, but never fully and finitely reach, a projected goal. This energy precipitates the ongoing processes of cross-Pacific film remaking, which constitute a crucial site for imagining and enacting (without absolving) issues of national and regional border politics. These issues unfold in relation to global formations such as colonialism, Cold War ideology, and postcolonial, postsocialist globalization. As such, Remaking Chinese Cinema contributes to the ongoing debate on (trans-)national cinema from the unique perspective of century-long border-crossing film remaking.