The Wandering Earth has been billed as a breakthrough for Chinese sci-fi. The film tells the story of our planet, doomed by the expanding Sun, being moved across space to a safer place. The Chinese heroes have to save the mission – and humanity – when Earth gets caught in Jupiter’s gravitational pull. Based on Hugo Award winner Liu Cixin’s short story of the same name, Wandering Earth has already grossed $600m (£464m) at the Chinese box office and was called China’s “giant leap into science fiction” by the Financial Times. It’s been bought by Netflix and will debut there on 30 April. But while this may be the first time many in the West have heard of “kehuan” – Chinese science fiction – Chinese cinema has a long sci-fi history, which has given support to scientific endeavour, offered escapism from harsh times and inspired generations of film-goers. So for Western audiences eager to plot the rise of the Chinese sci-fi movie, here are five films I think are worth renewed attention. Rest the rest on BBC Asia.
Posted in Blog and tagged BBC, china, Chinese, culture, film, science fiction, The Wandering Earth
This week sees many gay and lesbian couples proudly walking up the isle as Taiwan becomes the first region in Asia to legalise same-sex marriages. Whilst my book “From Kuan Yin to Chairman: An Essential Guide to Chinese Deities”, aims to show the depth and breath of native Chinese beliefs and their cultural significance, it’s by no means a definitive guide. One deity I didn’t get to write about in the book, is 兔兒神Tu Er Shen, the rabbit god, patron of homosexual love. This weekend is the perfect time to tell you a little bit about him.
Posted in Blog and tagged book, china, Chinese, culture, deities, homosexuality, Taiwan
Hope you’ve all had a chance to watch The Wandering Earth by now. (If you haven’t, its on Netflix, and iQiyi). I’m ready to share my thoughts on it.
Did Wandering Earth live up to all the hype? I think it did! It was an excellent hard sci-fi movie. With very high production values, including the CG, a gripping but logically grounded plot line, which, whilst comparable to some of Hollywood’s disasterporn sci-fi, never loses its very Chinese heart.
Posted in Blog and tagged china, Chinese, cinema, culture, film, science fiction
Following Zara’s new makeup campaign in February this year featuring Chinese model Li Jingwen, along with Vogue’s photography of the London-based Chinese model Gao Qizhen last week, debate has exploded regarding beauty standards in Chinese social media.
Whilst Chinese ideals of beauty have always been very different from the West’s (give or take fads for orientalism), the rise of internet communities and the globalization of the fashion and beauty industries have meant that these two sets of ideals are increasingly coming face-to-face, and the cultural clash made all the more poignant and visible.
Posted in Blog and tagged beauty, china, Chinese, culture, fashion, Vogue, Zara
In the 18th and 19th centuries, when exploration was a hobby of the British upper classes, you’d regularly hear about the discovery of Brand New Civilizations — as though indigenous people’s generational histories did not pop into existence until someone with a pith helmet and a camera stumbled into the clearing. I had my own “Dr. Livingstone Presuming” moment this week, when I began to read headlines in such stalwarts of the British press as the Financial Times (as well as digital newcomers like The Verge) stating that the just-released film adaptation of The Wandering Earthmarked China’s first tentative foray into sci-fi cinema, before scuttling back and forth between comparisons with contemporary American blockbusters and classic American sci-fi quicker than you can say “White Gaze Genesis.”
Posted in Blog and tagged china, Chinese, cinema, culture, film, Kehuan, literature, representation, science fiction, Wandering Earth
The Chun Jie Wan Hui, CCTV’s New Year Gala, (often just referred to as as Chun Wan), is almost as old as I am, though there had been televised celebrations of a more artistic nature broadcast on and off since the 1950s. On every New Year’s Eve, after the huge meal, my family would inevitably gather round, and watch through four or five hours of this state produced extravaganza, keeping us awake til the small hours of New Year’s Day with the pomp and majesty of costumes, lighting and stage sets; and the relentless exuberance of acts trying to out ham each other.
Posted in Blog and tagged CCTV Gala, china, Chinese, Chinese New Year, culture
In recent year, China has seen the commercialisation of Chinese New Year on a scale it has never seen before, not just within the country, but around the world. Every company splashes red and gold packaging onto its products, and creates a “Going Home for Spring Festival” advert.
Posted in Blog and tagged advert, china, Chinese, Chinese New Year, commercials, culture, film
So “Aquaman”, directed by James Wan, Australian director of Malaysian Chinese descent, with Chinese actor Ludi Lin (Power Rangers) as Murk, has been doing well in box offices in China. Some might be puzzled as to why the Chinese would be drawn to a story that seems so immersed in the world of Greek mythology. Although very much unique in their own right, the world’s mythologies do share certain commonalities, and there are many elements in this film that would make it popular with a Chinese audience.
Posted in Blog and tagged Aquaman, Atalanta, china, Chinese, culture, dragon king, film, Monkey King, mythology, ocean
There are many plays about being Chinese in Britain. Yet there was something about “Ghost Girl, Gwei Mui 鬼妹” that struck a chord with me, once a Cantonese girl transplanted from Guangzhou to London half way through her upbringing. Perhaps it was the title, the idea of being a living ghost – the invisible minority, or the daring reverse use of Gwei Mui, the Cantonese insult for foreigners, that prompted me to accept the offer to review this play.
Posted in Blog and tagged adoptee, Britain, British Chinese, china, Chinese, Chinese Arts Now, culture, immigration, Jennifer Tang, minority, racism, review, theatre
Chinese New Year is becoming one of few times of the year when the world takes an interest in Chinese culture. Whilst I have always considered this a good starting point, there is so much more to China beyond Spring Festival. Like all live cultures, Chinese culture is developing organically every second, having sprouted thick branches across different regions within China, and new branches in different communities around the world. Over the last decade or so, China is increasingly featuring in not just current affairs, but in the arts around the UK. Media that present an overview of these events from different parts of the country, through the year, is much harder to come by. So this year, I have curated my own selection, not only for China-enthusiasts, but for anyone who is interested, curious, or just fancies a little different. I hope you will find it useful.
Posted in Blog and tagged 2019, arts, books, china, Chinese, culture, film, food, games, theatre, UK