Shuangli Guo: Beyond Storytelling: Early Chinese Film History between Attraction and Narration

Shuangli Guo | Utrecht University, Institute for Cultural Inquiry | Supervisor: Prof. dr Frank Kessler |  2017- 2021 |  s.guo[at]

Beyond Storytelling: Early Chinese Film History between Attraction and Narration

My research is about Chinese early film history from 1896 to 1929. Before the 1980s, early films were seen as inferior, primitive because they did not follow the realist model of classical Hollywood film. In 1986, the famous American film historian Tom Gunning published his profound paper, “The cinema of Attraction(s): Early Film, Its Spectator and the Avant-Garde”, which had a great impact on film theory and history. In this article, Tom Gunning emphasized pre-narrative film and experimental film. Besides, he regarded both film production and spectatorship as a complicated social aggregate, and proposed the concept of cinema of attractions. The methodology of “The cinema of Attraction(s)” is non-ideological. Thus, Tom Gunning’s film theory can provide theoretical support and a new approach to early Chinese film research. My previous research mainly focused on the aestheticism director Duyu Dan, and found that his films contain features of the Cinema of Attractions with aesthetic accentuations. However, Duyu Dan and his films do not get a fair judgment in contemporary film historical writings. Realizing the problem that exists in early Chinese history research, I made up my mind to get a more comprehensive picture of film history research. I will revisit the impact of European avant-garde films on early Chinese films. And research on the attractiveness of Chinese early film. Focus on the composition of early audiences. With a new theory and new methodology to study and describe the early Chinese film history.