MCLC and MCLC Resource Center are pleased to announce publication of Chris Berry’s review of Zhang Yimou: Globalization and the Subject of Culture (Cambria 2017), by Wendy Larson. The review appears below, but is best read at its online home here: http://u.osu.edu/mclc/book-reviews/chris-berry/. My thanks to MCLC media studies book review editor, Jason McGrath, for ushering the review to publication.
Kirk A. Denton, editor
By Wendy Larson
Reviewed by Chris Berry
MCLC Resource Center Publication (Copyright March, 2018)
In Zhang Yimou: Globalization and the Subject of Culture, Wendy Larson asks us to take Zhang Yimou 张艺谋 seriously again. This is a very welcome intervention. Few Chinese film directors seem to have been more widely—and diversely—reviled than Zhang. As Larson nimbly lays out in her introductory chapter, he was first attacked for alleged self-orientalism in pursuit of foreign film festival awards in the early 1990s. Then, his martial arts megahit Hero (英雄, 2002) was condemned for promoting “fascist” submission to authoritarianism. Worst of all, his more recent films, such as the Matt Damon vehicle The Great Wall (长城, 2016), have been ridiculed and dismissed. Nevertheless, Zhang remains China’s only director with a global reputation beyond the festival scene, and the only one with enough clout to put together a project like The Great Wall. Even though many of us might be more comfortable with festival favorites like Jia Zhangke 贾樟柯, we should not ignore directors with wider impact like Zhang Yimou, Feng Xiaogang 冯小刚, and the host of younger genre filmmakers that have emerged as the industry has boomed in the People’s Republic. Continue reading