The three films comprising director Jia Zhangke's 'Hometown Trilogy' - Xiao Wu (1997), Platform (2000) and Unknown Pleasures(2002) - represent key contributions to the cinema of contemporary China. The films, which are set in Jia's home province of Shanxi, highlight the plight of marginalised individuals – singers, dancers, pickpockets, prostitutes and drifters – as they struggle to navigate through the radically transforming terrain of contemporary China. Xiao Wu tells the story of a small-time pickpocket who faces the breakdown of his relationships with his friends, family and girlfriend. Platform, often considered Jia's most ambitious film, is an epic narrative that bears witness to China's roaring eighties and the radical transformation from socialism to capitalism. Jia's third feature, Unknown Pleasures continues his meditation on China in transition, tracing the story of two delinquent teenagers who live on a diet of saccharine Chinese pop music, karaoke, Pulp Fiction, and Coca-Cola while entertaining pipe dreams of joining the army and becoming small-time gangsters.
Michael Berry's in-depth study of the three films considers them as an ambitious attempt to re-examine the transformation and fate of provincial China – its places and people – as it is caught up in a whirlwind of sweeping social, cultural and economic change. At the heart of the book lies a series of close readings of each of the three films; through which Berry teases out their central narrative themes, highlighting Jia's use of editing, cinematic language, and mise en scene. He pays special attention to the place of intertextuality in Jia's oeuvre, as well as the central themes of destruction and change, stagnation and movement, political verses popular culture, and, of course, the ceaseless search for home.
Michael Berry is Associate Professor of Contemporary Chinese Cultural Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara. He is the author of Speaking in Images: Interviews with Contemporary Chinese Filmmakers (2005), and A History of Pain: Trauma in Modern Chinese Literature and Film (2008). He is also the translator of several novels, including The Song of Everlasting Sorrow (2008), To Live (2004), Nanjing 1937: A Love Story (2002), and Wild Kids (2000).
Michael Berry takes an innovative look at the representation of six specific historical traumas in modern Chinese history: the Musha Incident (1930); the Rape of Nanjing (1937-38); the February 28 Incident (1947); the Cultural Revolution (1966-76); Tiananmen Square (1989); and the Handover of Hong Kong (1997). He identifies two primary modes of restaging historical violence: centripetal trauma, or violence inflicted from the outside that inspires a reexamination of the Chinese nation, and centrifugal trauma, which, originating from within, inspires traumatic narratives that are projected out onto a transnational vision of global dreams and, sometimes, nightmares.
These modes allow Berry to connect portrayals of mass violence to ideas of modernity and the nation. He also illuminates the relationship between historical atrocity on a national scale and the pain experienced by the individual; the function of film and literature as historical testimony; the intersection between politics and art, history and memory; and the particular advantages of modern media, which have found new means of narrating the burden of historical violence.
As Chinese artists began to probe previously taboo aspects of their nation's history in the final decades of the twentieth century, they created texts that prefigured, echoed, or subverted social, political, and cultural trends. A History of Pain acknowledges the far-reaching influence of this art and addresses its profound role in shaping the public imagination and conception-as well as misconception-of modern Chinese history.
Reporting Cultures in 60 Minutesis a study covering the journalistic practice of reporting culture by examining "Tango Finlandia," a broadcast report on Finnish culture produced by the American television news magazine 60 Minutes. It covers the journalistic practice of reporting culture broadly by looking specifically at Finns and Americans reporting about their respective homelands and about the other’s culture and social interactions.
Unique in its content and approach, this volume:
Demonstrates how reports are constructed as deeply cultural forms, couched in points of view derived from one’s discursive habits and their meanings.
Analyzes reporting done in professional practice/journalism as well as in common social routine.
Offers a way through the process that can move reporting on culture from a self-reflective mirror to opening a window onto another cultural world.
Scholars and students in communication, intercultural/international studies, and related areas will find much to consider in this work