The Emergence of Chinese Cinema


-6-8 pages (not including your Works Cited page)

-12pt font; Times New Roman font; double-spaced; one-inch margins; page numbers

-Chicago-style citations and footnotes [*note: we will review this]

-include a Works Cited page, listing all of the texts you cite in your essay and footnotes

-no title page necessary

-include your name, course number, and the date in the top right corner of the first page

-be sure to give your essay a title, one which captures the topic you will be discussing and which hints at the argument you will be making


-students mustmake direct reference to our book, Reinventing China by Paul Clark

-students mustmake direct reference to at least 1 film by Chen Kaige (Yellow Earth) and

at least one film by Zhang Yimou (Red Sorghum; Ju Dou; To Live)

-students may additionally draw upon other sources from our course, including course readings and lectures to help support their essay

-students should not feel compelled to reference or cite sources from outside our course (though you are welcome to do so)


Respond to the following prompt in a 6-8-page essay. Be sure to take a clear position, forging an argumentative thesis that is debatable (i.e. someone could reasonably argue against it), and that will guide your essay along. Your essay should include an Introduction, 3-5 points of support (fleshed out through your body paragraphs), and a Conclusion. Remember: there is no “right” answer to the questions posed in these prompts – instead, you should follow the answer (or thesis) that you feel is best given the evidence you have at your disposal.

In the 1980s and 1990s, the so-called Fifth Generation of Chinese filmmakers emerged and began elevating Chinese cinema on the international stage. The films they created broke with tradition, explored new ways of storytelling through film, and reflected broad changes ongoing in Chinese society as the country shifted from the Mao era (1949-76) to the post-Mao era of reform under Deng Xiaoping. How were Fifth Generation filmmakers, and the films they produced, shaped or influenced by their experiences during the Cultural Revolution (1966-76)? How are their films indicative of the training they received at the Beijing Film Academy in the late 1970s and early 1980s? How are their films products of the changing Chinese society of the 1980s and 1990s in which they were created? What are these filmmakers trying to say in their films? What are they trying to say about Chinese history and Chinese culture? How do their films go about making these commentaries?

In your essay, you should discuss Chen Kaige’s Yellow Earthand at least one film by Zhang Yimou (Red Sorghum; Ju Dou; To Live). Although you are free to discuss other Fifth Generation filmmakers in your essay, you should dedicate most of your attention to Chen Kaige and Zhang Yimou.

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