In search of an ‘origin’: Re-presenting guoxue in Chinese cinema of the new millennium | Intellect Skip to content
Volume 1, Issue 3
  • ISSN: 2051-7084
  • E-ISSN: 2051-7092



This article examines Zhang Yimou’s Yingxiong/Hero (2002), Chen Kaige’s Mei Lanfang/Forever Enthralled (2008) and Hu Mei’s Kongzi/Confucius (2010), and discusses how they respectively reconstruct narratives of a mythical national spirit via sublimated portrayals of guoxue and how such re-presentations respond to both earlier cinematic traditions and the more and more intense trend of commercialization in the Chinese film industry. What makes these films’ shared investment in guoxue even more interesting is the fact that all these three directors are representative figures of the so-called ‘Fifth Generation’, a group of film-makers who were best known for their self-consciously critical approaches towards Chinese cultural traditions in the 1980s. Their recent collective enthusiasm for guoxue and much more positive re-presentations of it not only indicate a revisit to the heated discussions over indigenous cultural roots two to three decades ago but also reflect the restructured relationships among film-makers, their audiences and the state.


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  • Article Type: Article
Keyword(s): Chinese cinema; Chinese learning; cultural nationalism; guoxue
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