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

by Christopher Lupke

Description

This book is in the Cambria Sinophone World Series headed by Victor H. Mair (University of Pennsylvania) and the Cambria Global Performing Arts Series headed by John M. Clum (Duke University).

Hou Hsiao-hsien is one of the most beloved auteur film directors active today. His films are among the most important to have been produced worldwide in the past thirty years. His work has garnered more than a dozen awards, including prizes at The Venice Film Festival, the Berlin Film Festival, and the Cannes Film Festival. Critics lavish praise on Hou’s films, which have won over a dozen major awards worldwide. His breakout film A Time to Live, A Time to Die earned the Fipresci Award at Berlin in 1986 as well as the Special Jury Prize at Torino. Hou won the Golden Lion at Venice in 1989 for A City of Sadness, the first bold public expression of the 1947 February 28th Massacre in Taiwan. His uniquely crafted biopic The Puppetmasterreceived the Jury Prize at Cannes in 1993. He has garnered various additional honors at film festivals in Nantes, Locarno, Rotterdam, Singapore, and elsewhere. Hou’s oeuvre has attracted the attention of a wide range of critics, scholars, and film aficionados.

His work is technically pioneering, particularly for its signature approach to realism. His subtle interrogation of the aesthetics of Hollywood places him in a category with such greats as Satayajit Ray, Kitano Takeshi, Wong Kar-wai, Abbas Kiarostami, and Werner Herzog. His ability to capture and visualize such elusive phenomena as feelings of malaise, ambivalence and aimlessness in a world in which teleology is the only tolerable cultural logic, his elevation of the insignificant minutiae of daily life to objects of aesthetic sublime, his interrogation of cultural cohesion through the use of multiple languages and symbolic valences compels the serious student of cinema to study his work carefully.

Christopher Lupke’s book is a comprehensive treatment of Hou Hsiao-hsien’s entire oeuvre, including The Assassin which was recently released. Lupke was able to visit the set of The Assassin and includes rare photos of Hou on his film set. In addition to a detailed filmography and a substantial bibliography, the book also several interviews of Hou Hsiao-hsien that Lupke has translated into English.

This book is a must read for all interested in global cinema today. It also offers important information for those particularly interested in the society and politics of postwar Taiwan and Sinophone culture in general. It will appeal to readers concerned with issues such as the representation of ethnicity, gender, political repression, and the tensions between cities and the countryside. Anyone who wishes to understand radical innovation in contemporary world cinema must come to terms with the films of Hou Hsiao-hsien.

Read excerpts from the book

Author Interview with Christopher Lupke



 

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