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4 The Medium: Inside Glocal Mediascapes

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Chapter Summary

Film studies tend to focus on films alone, but this chapter positions films inside broader mediascapes in order to re-examine the nature of the film medium as it was discovered, perceived, and explored by early Chinese practitioners. The chapter first analyzes the earliest Mingxing short films including newsreels, comics, and short feature films. It demonstrates that early Shanghai filmmaking experimented with a variety of film genres that had been evolving during the first two decades of film history. Three basic functions of the film medium were explored: the need to document, to amuse, and to narrate. Then the chapter examines Mingxing's first feature-length film Zhang Xinsheng (1923) and the box-office hit Konggu lan (1926/1935). The chapter traces the long journey from East Lynne to Konggu lan in order to understand the ways in which Shanghai filmmaking connected to global popular cultural production.

Keywords: Chinese practitioners; film medium; glocal mediascapes; Konggu lan; Mingxing short films; Shanghai filmmaking; Zhang Xinsheng



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