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Shanghai Alleys, Theatrical Practice, and Cinematic Spectatorship: From Street Angel (1937) to Fifth Generation Film

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Author(s): Alexander Des Forges

Journal: Journal of Current Chinese Affairs
ISSN 1868-1026

Volume: 39;
Issue: 4;
Start page: 29;
Date: 2010;
Original page

Keywords: Social sciences | China | films | theatre | urban space | 300 | 305 | China | contemporary

ABSTRACT
This article argues that a certain type of Shanghai film of the Republican period, exemplified by 1937’s Street Angel (馬路天使, Malu tianshi), makes use of a specific mode of spatial organization, modelled on the theatre, to represent the urban environment. In the case of Street Angel, and later on in 1964’s Stage Sisters (舞台姐妹, Wutai jiemei), the interaction between performers and audiences characteristic of the Shanghai theatre experience serves as a crucial ground on which to base calls to political action. For a variety of related reasons, both the city of Shanghai and this mode of spatial organization so closely associated with it vanish from the big screen in the 1980s and 1990s, and begin to make a return only at the turn of the new century.
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