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date: 02 March 2021

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter discusses the ideological and technological means of representing the crowd in four Mainland Chinese films, The Big Road (1934), Prairie Fire (1962), The Big Parade (1986), and Aftershock (2010). Summoned on-screen in order to interpellate and galvanize the off-screen audience, the figure of the crowd resonates not just with the narratives of collectivity each of these films espouses to varying degrees, but also epitomizes a uniquely cinematic mode of reproduction and propagation. At the same time, the filmic projection that connects collective spectatorship to mass spectacle also produces a sense of the ghostly: the presence of the film crowd constantly confronts its own passing and disappearance. Each of the four films examined in this chapter is engaged with the imagination and ultimate spectrality of the crowd in different ways and helps us to rethink the interaction of historical narrative, cinematic technology, and movie audiences in China.

Keywords: crowd, spectator, spectacle, specter, mass medium, technology, ideology, narrative, projection

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