The Cultural Politics of Modern Chinese Fiction and Film

Adapted for the ScreenContemporary Chinese films are popular with audiences worldwide, but a key reason for their success has gone unnoticed: many of the films are adapted from brilliant literary works. Adapted for the Screen: The Cultural Politics of Modern Chinese Fiction and Film, by Hsiu-Chuang Deppman, is the first to put these landmark films in the context of their literary origins and explore how the best Chinese directors adapt fictional narratives and styles for film. She unites aesthetics with history in her argument that the rise of cinema in China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan in the late 1980s was partly fueled by burgeoning literary movements. Fifth Generation director Zhang Yimou’s highly acclaimed films Red Sorghum, Raise the Red Lantern, and To Live are built on the experimental works of Mo Yan, Su Tong, and Yu Hua, respectively. Hong Kong new wave’s Ann Hui and Stanley Kwan capitalized on the irresistible visual metaphors of Eileen Chang’s postrealism. Hou Xiaoxian’s new Taiwan cinema turned to fiction by Huang Chunming and Zhu Tianwen for fine-grained perspectives on class and gender relations. Delving equally into the individual approaches of directors and writers, Deppman initiates readers into the exciting possibilities emanating from the world of Chinese cinema.

“Hsiu-Chuang Deppman’s ambitious book investigates the complex associative and conceptual interaction between literature and film, arguing that in many cases, a structural connection underlies the relationship. Her work is a strong challenge to those who believe literature and film should always be regarded as completely separate and unrelated. Deppman’s fascinating chapter on the hip Wong Kar-wai and his debt to novelist Liu Yichang well illustrates the way in which directors can play with and play off of narrative structures, in the process setting up a provocative intersection.” –Wendy Larson, University of Oregon

May 2010 / ISBN 978-0-8248-3454-8 / $27.00 (PAPER)