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date: 18 September 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter discusses a turning point of Chinese cinematic aesthetics in the late 1940s. It focuses on two movies directed by Fei Mu, Eternal Regret and Spring in a Small Town. These two films, one featuring the stylized performance of Mei Lanfang, the greatest female impersonator of Beijing opera, and the other a realist melodrama of a wartime romance amid ruins, are very different projects. But the fact that they were shot back to back points to something more than a mere coincidence. It renders a compelling story of how Fei Mu, with the inspiration of Mei Lanfang, negotiated a new way of screening China, and more intriguingly, how he produced a radical manifestation of cinematic “Chineseness” where it was least expected.

Keywords: lyricism, air, Beijing opera, war, melodrama

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