Talk & Screening: Zhang Yimou’s Happy Times and the Legacy of Socialism
Organised by the Department of Chinese Studies in collaboration with the Sydney China Visitors program
Zhang Yimou’s Happy Times and the Legacy of Socialism
Professor Wendy Larson, Sydney China Distinguished Fellow
This talk will be followed by a screening of Happy Times.
Open to all University staff and students.
Red Sorghum (红高粱, 1987), Zhang Yimou’s (张艺谋, 1951-) initial directorial effort, confirmed the creative ability of the People to forge a spirited collective future, to preserve social unity against hostile outsiders, and to transmit a vital cultural story. Emerging from the socialist period, the film took advantage of powerful narratives of collectivity to valorize an abstract force hidden within the People. Some ten years later, Zhang was no longer so optimistic. Happy Times (幸福时光, 2000) revisits the possibility of tapping the socialist legacy as a cultural source under the new conditions of capitalism and globalisation. Set within a human emotional economy inextricably entwined with market values, the film zeroes in on the question of whether socialist culture, with its communal, self-sacrificing values, can contribute to a positive vigorous future. In this talk, Wendy Larson will place Happy Times within the context of Zhang Yimou’s career, showing the evolution of his ideas, aesthetics, and themes as a filmmaker.
Watch the movie trailer: Happy Times (2000)
About the speaker
Professor Wendy Larson is a professor emerita of East Asian languages and literature at the University of Oregon. Her research monographs include Zhang Yimou: Globalization and the Subject of Culture (Cambria 2017); From Ah Q to Lei Feng: Freud and Revolutionary Spirit in 20th Century China (Stanford UP 2009); Women and Writing in Modern China (Stanford UP 1998); and Literary Authority and the Chinese Writer: Ambivalence and Autobiography (Duke UP 1991). Her present research project compares cultural optimism under capitalism and socialism, with a focus on China and the West.
As part of the Sydney China Visitors program, Professor Larson is the 2019 Sydney China Distinguished Fellow in the Department of Chinese Studies from 5–31 August.
For more information, contact: Dr Josh Stenberg – firstname.lastname@example.org