Cambria Press Publication Review: Zhang Yimou

Congratulations to Professor Wendy Larson (University of Oregon) on yet another glowing review of her book Zhang Yimou: Globalization and the Subject of Culture. The China Journal commends her book for being “a sophisticated, nuanced assessment of the ways in which Zhang Yimou displays and performs culture and the unexpected ways in which he deliberately undermines expectations.”


The book review further notes that:

“Larson does this through careful analysis of eight of Zhang’s first nine films as a director, from 1987’s stunning Red Sorghum to 2005’s cross-cultural elegy Riding Alone for Thousands of Miles…. Larson opens with a masterful discussion of the question of culture in relation to the study of China, Eurocentrism, postcolonial assessments, and the nation. This sets the scene for a discussion of the arc of the treatment of culture in Zhang’s socalled Red Trilogy: Red SorghumJudou, and Raise the Red Lantern. This provides Larson with an opportunity to investigate Chinese critics’ debates about authenticity and performance of the nation. She also deftly addresses other issues in these three films, such as women’s agency. … The movies she discusses include Hero, which many critics and scholars at home and abroad have labeled as fascist in its presentation of culture against a background of the formation of the Chinese state. Contrary to this critique, Larson presents a persuasive argument that Hero fits neatly into the development of Zhang’s directing career. Larson’s analysis of Hero illustrates the subtlety of her argument on culture. Arguing persuasively against the notion of it being a fascist work, she emphasizes the contest in the film between two kinds of power: that of the emperor (associated by critics with fascism) and that of the xia (usually translated as knight-errant, though not in these pages) culture of the would-be assassins of the emperor. … Less well-known films equally get impressive treatment in these pages. … English-speaking fans and critics of Zhang’s films have much to contemplate in this richly argued and original book.”

This book is part of the Cambria Sinophone World Series, headed by Professor Victor Mair (University of Pennsylvania).

This book is available in print and digital versions from Cambria Press.

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