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Film Adaptation as Political Orthodoxy and Its Dilemmas: The Case of Xia Yan in the 1950s and 1960s

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Xia Yan (1900–95), a very important leftist filmmaker in the 1930s, preferred film adaptation after 1949. This paper, by reading several of Xia Yan’s films written in the 1950s and 1960s against their literary sources, explores the changes he made to the sources and the strategies he used. It also outlines the different positions he took and the cultural history glimpsed through the films and Xia Yan’s role in them. This paper then analyzes how Xia Yan acted as a conformist vanguard repeating and re-enforcing the official ideology, as is shown in his adaptations of The New Year’s Sacrifice and Revolutionary Family. He was an ambivalent critic in the adaptation of The Lin Family Shop with its petite-bourgeois protagonist and its perhaps unintentional deconstruction of the official version of history. While, he reserved his humanistic concerns incognito for Hong Kong in the adaptation of Between Smiles and Tears.


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