The heroic and the banal: Consuming Soviet movies in pre-socialist China, 1920s–1940s

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Soviet cinema as part of the socialist cultural landscape in Maoist China has been well recognized and extensively researched. This article looks at the earlier exhibition history of Soviet movies in pre-socialist China (from the 1920s to 1940s). It demonstrates that the early Chinese consumption and reception of this film culture involved two intertwined attitudes. On the one hand, Soviet movies were greeted as a much-needed Hero in the Chinese nationalist and anti-imperialist discourses. On the other hand, the exhibition of Soviet movies operated commercially, and commercial sectors promoted the popular appeal of these movies to fulfil the carnal desire of spectators. By examining film reviews, advertisements, and censorship reports, this article explores the ways in which the Hero image and the banal side of the Hero were constructed in the pre-socialist milieu of China.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)93-117
JournalTwentieth-Century China
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 25 Apr 2014


  • Soviet cinema
  • film exhibition
  • Republican China


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