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The Making of Modern Icons: Three Actresses of the Lianhua Film Company

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image of European Journal of East Asian Studies

Between 1930 and 1937, the Lianhua Film Company was one of the major studios in China, and in many ways was a symbol of modernity. The policy of the Company towards its actors was quite new and contributed to the creation of a new social status for this group, especially for the women. This paper focuses on three female stars (Wang Renmei, Chen Yanyan and Li Lili,) who worked for the Lianhua Film Company. Through a detailed analysis of the photos published in its magazine, Lianhua Huabao, as well as feature films produced by the Company, we will study Lianhua's strategies to transform these women into professional actresses. Their image was created by the entanglement of three spheres: their private lives, their public lives and their fiction lives played on screen. We will consider the sometimes conflicting relationships between these spheres by looking at the visual sources (photos and feature films) in conjunction with the actresses' biographies and movie roles. This will underline the complexity and ambiguity of a process understood by the Lianhua Film Company not only as the making of professional actresses but also as the creation of a new, modern Chinese woman.

Affiliations: 1: CNRS


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