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The Sinophone Cinema of Hou Hsiao-hsien: Culture, Style, Voice, and Motion By Christo ...

Chapter 1:  The Odyssey of Hou Hsiao-hsien
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The Sinophone Cinema of Hou Hsiao-hsien:

Chapter 1

The Odyssey of Hou Hsiao-hsien

An Overview

Like many books these days, mine contains both a title and a subtitle. The Sinophone Cinema of Hou Hsiao-hsien is meant to suggest that linguistically and culturally speaking Hou Hsiao-hsien necessarily dwells in contested terrain, in the political penumbra between state and region, between national culture and transnational identity. This is not the place to engage fully in a theoretical discussion on the nature of Sinophone, except to say that inherent in the term is some sort of disjunction between the pure linguistic origin and the frayed voice speaking through a many-layered language. In the case of Hou Hsiao-hsien, language itself is unstable and comes in many forms and subforms. As the son of a schoolteacher, Hou doubtlessly speaks Mandarin. But as the child of ethnic Hakka immigrants to Taiwan, he spoke Hakka at home. When Hou was just a young boy, his father passed away. Lacking a male authority figure pushed Hou out into the gang culture around him, and in order to survive within it the young street tough Hou learned the Hoklo language, popularly referred to as “Taiwanese,” very well. A cultural avatar of Taiwan, Hou is very cognizant of the added layer of Japanese language and culture