- Yellow Earth
- [Huang tudi, 1984]FilmYellow Earth, produced by the Xi’an Film Studio, is one of China’s most famous films. Directed by Chen Kaige with Zhang Yimou as cinematographer, it launched China’s ‘Fifth Generation’ cinema onto the global scene. The film’s plot is a parody of revolutionary stories. A handsome Party cadre, Gu Qing, arrives in an impoverished Shaanxi region during the Anti-Japanese War to collect folksongs. He stays with a peasant family: father, daughter (Cuiqiao) and son (Hanhan). Cuiqiao and Hanhan are romanced by Gu’s revolutionary message. However, Cuiqiao drowns crossing the river to Yan’an and the peasants return to age-old rituals against drought and famine. The story therefore subverts the Yan’an myth of the Communist Party as the people’s saviour.The film is famous for its ravishing cinematography.Panoramic shots of the vast yellow earth, of the Yellow River, and of the empty sky at day and night, re-envision the cradle of Chinese civilization, whether ancient or revolutionary. Yellow Earth returns a concealed Daoist yin—yang iconography as integral to the symbolic world of modern China. In this sense, Huang tudi belongs to the Root-seeking school in 1980s fiction and film.Berry, Chris and Farquhar, Mary Ann (1994). ‘Post-Socialist Strategies: An Analysis of Yellow Earth and Black Cannon Incident’. In Kinda Erlich and David Desser (eds), Cinematic Landscapes: Observations on the Visual Arts and Cinema of China and Japan. Austin: University of Texas, 81–116.Leung, Helen Hok-Sze (2003). ‘Yellow Earth: Hesitant Apprenticeship and Bitter Agency’. In Chris Berry (ed.), Chinese Films in Focus: 25 New Takes. London: BFI, 191–7.McDougall, Bonnie S., (1991). The Yellow Earth: A Film by Chen Kaige, with a Complete Translation of the Filmscript. Hong Kong: Chinese University Press.Yingjin, Zhang and Zhiwei, Xiao and Xiao Zhiwei Zhang, Yingjin (eds) (1998). Encyclopaedia of Chinese Film. London and New York, Routledge, 382.MARY FARQUHAR
Encyclopedia of contemporary Chinese culture. Compiled by EdwART. 2011.