This article examines three lost short comedies produced alongside Labourer’s Love by the Mingxing Film Studio in 1922: The King of Comedy Visits Shanghai (Huaji dawang you hu ji), Havoc in a Bizarre Theatre (Danao guai xichang), and The Naughty Kid (Wantong). I propose to look beyond the extant Labourer’s Love and instead to delve into the broader intertextual, intermedial fabric of early film comedy for a re-evaluation of this neglected genre. Drawing on advertising texts, stills, and film reviews, this study corrects misinformation and supplements new data, based on which I posit two notions for a reconceptualization of early Chinese comedy film. First, I propose the Chinese concept of renao (“hot noise”) as a particular sensorial-somatic mode of experience to account for the Chinese engagement with film comedy in the tumultuous 1920s. Second, I borrow the Chinese poetic device of allusion to interpret their widespread references to Hollywood films in structural, narrative, and visual terms. Through the prism of allusion, the appropriation and re-production of Hollywood elements can be regarded as a means of adding authority to inchoate Chinese filmmaking, while at the same time complicating familiar topoi, symbols, and imageries in culturally sensitive ways.
|Journal||Journal of Chinese Film Studies|
|Publication status||Published - 1 Nov 2022|
- silent film
- film comedy
- Chinese film