The representation of women in John Woo’s Red Cliff: Variations on traditional themes of the warrior woman (and the wife)

Woodland, Sarah (). The representation of women in John Woo’s Red Cliff: Variations on traditional themes of the warrior woman (and the wife) Honours Thesis, School of Languages and Comp Cultural Studies, The University of Queensland.

       
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Author Woodland, Sarah
Thesis Title The representation of women in John Woo’s Red Cliff: Variations on traditional themes of the warrior woman (and the wife)
School, Centre or Institute School of Languages and Comp Cultural Studies
Institution The University of Queensland
Thesis type Honours Thesis
Supervisor Joe Hardwick
Guy Ramsay
Daphne Hsieh
Total pages 68
Language eng
Subjects 200202 Asian Cultural Studies
190201 Cinema Studies
Abstract/Summary This thesis intends to explore issues relating to the representation of women in the transnational Chinese-language film Red Cliff, with the aim of understanding if the women in this film represent something progressive in female representation and, if so, to what extent. The study was motivated, in particular, by comments made by the director of the film, John Woo, regarding his intentions for, and impressions of, the female characters he created within this otherwise very masculine story. Of particular focus in this study will be the character of Sun Shangxiang, who appears to be heavily tied to the traditional Chinese warrior woman figure, a figure who was of significant narrative importance, and whose ‘trangressive’ participation in masculine activities was condoned on the basis of its overall maintenance of China’s dominant social order. However, as Red Cliff is a transnational film, discussion of the Western/Hollywood interpretation of this warrior woman is also relevant, particularly given its discussion of issues of sexuality, where there is a divergence between the Western and the Chinese traditions. This thesis uses the psychoanalytic theory of Laura Mulvey, which argues women in film serve primarily the function of erotic spectacle, as well as the narrative theory of Vladimir Propp, in determining the female characters’ relative narrative importance. The other main female character in Red Cliff, Xiao Qiao, will be used as a point of contrast to discuss the tension which plays out in the film between the erotic and narrative functions of women, particularly in relation to the warrior woman. The study will argue that while there are some differences in Sun Shangxiang’s characterization, her character is very much still rooted in the traditional Chinese warrior woman figure, particularly in relation to her use of male disguise to achieve narrative importance. Xiao Qiao, as a point of contrast, represents the traditional Chinese woman, as well as the erotic in Mulvey’s terms, but also with a slight twist.

 
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Created: Wed, 11 Apr 2012, 12:05:18 EST by Ms Katrina Hume on behalf of School of Languages and Comp Cultural Studies