Zhang Yimou’s Coming Home

by A/Prof. Xiaoying Yue

e: yuexy77@163.com

This podcast is of a discussion following a screening of Zhang Yimou’s Coming Home (2014) at UNSW Australia for SSSN on 20th September 2016. The discussion was led by A/Prof. Xiaoying Yue and chaired by A/Prof. Jane Mills, and questions were contributed by the audience present on the day. A/Prof. Yue also presented an introduction to the film. You can find the slides from her introduction at the bottom of this page.

Associate Professor Yue Xiao-ying is from the School of Art, Southeast University, Nanjing, P.R. China. A/Prof Yue is currently at UNSW as a Visiting Scholar. Her current research project, “Cross-cultural Communication in Chinese Films.”

The title of Zhang Yimou’s Coming Home (2014) is a metaphor. It not only means the protagonist Lu Yanshi’s homecoming, but also director Zhang’s return. Zhang said: “Coming Home reflects the return of my creative mind, I can quietly make a movie.” From the narrative tradition of Chinese film history, Coming Home seems to be a continuation of Xie Jin’s ‘scar and reflection’ films. Coming Home tells a story of an intelligent family suffering a trauma in the Cultural Revolution. The main protagonist is an intellectual, and there is also an important female role of the ‘Earthly Mother’. This is the first time an intellectual is the lead character in a Zhang film. The fundamental difference between Coming Home and the scar and reflection films is that Lu Yanshi is not an intellectual concerned with the fate of his country, but a person without politics. As a result, Coming Home loses the scar and reflection films’ strength of an intellectual’s reflection. As an innocent man, Lu Yanshi’s experience conveys a strong sense of tragedy.

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