From Youth to Midlife: The Historical Trajectory of Individual Life in Three Films Adapted from Wang Shuo’s Novels

  • Author / Creator
    Zhou, Shuyao
  • This thesis takes three films, Kanshangqu henmei 看上去很美 (Little Red Flowers, d. Zhang Yuan, 2006), Yangguang canlan de rizi 阳光灿烂的日子 (In the Heat of the Sun, d. Jiang Wen, 1994), and Yuanjia fuzi 冤家父子 (Papa, d. Wang Shuo, 1991), all adapted from Wang Shuo’s works of fiction, as cases in which to explore the cinematic representation of individuals’ lives. It deals with three different life stages: childhood, teenage years, and midlife, analyzing some complicated connections between the individual’s daily life and Maoist/Post-Maoist historical discourse. Although much effort by scholars has been put into examining In the Heat of the Sun in isolation, barely any attention has been devoted to the films Little Red Flowers and Papa, and there is no discussion among scholars of these three films in conjunction with one another. This thesis contains a chapter each on Little Red Flowers, In the Heat of the Sun, and Papa, revisiting the particular status of the individual’s life trajectory under different historical circumstances from the 1960s to the 1990s in China, and arguing that there are resonances among these three films.
    Chapter One gives special attention to the disciplining of young children’s bodies in kindergarten during the 1960s and how the filmmaker in Little Red Flowers disdains the attempt to utilize children’s body for propagandistic display. Chapter Two reevaluates the narration of the coming-of-age experience and memory of the protagonist in In the Heat of the Sun set in the Cultural Revolution as a way of lifting the veil of nostalgia and revealing the fragility of memory, truth, and recorded history. Chapter Three ponders the interaction between a middle-aged father and his son via the affective lens of “shame,” contending that the depiction of shame in Papa implies an attitude of reconciling with the father at the end of the twentieth century.

  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Graduation date
    Fall 2019
  • Type of Item
  • Degree
    Master of Arts
  • DOI
  • License
    Permission is hereby granted to the University of Alberta Libraries to reproduce single copies of this thesis and to lend or sell such copies for private, scholarly or scientific research purposes only. Where the thesis is converted to, or otherwise made available in digital form, the University of Alberta will advise potential users of the thesis of these terms. The author reserves all other publication and other rights in association with the copyright in the thesis and, except as herein before provided, neither the thesis nor any substantial portion thereof may be printed or otherwise reproduced in any material form whatsoever without the author's prior written permission.