Liu Na’ou And The 1930s Soft Film Movement: A New Approach In Revisionist Chinese Film Historiography

Donna Ong


This essay analyzes how the 1930s Chinese “Soft Film” movement emerged and developed in film historiography, and finds it is a discursive formation by the Leftists to create an ideological enemy that serves to define its own group’s identity through a struggle against an “other”. It challenges the naming of “Soft Film” through examining documents beyond the official archive. Unearthing the film writings of Liu Na’ou as the movement’s leading figure is a good entry point into excavating the history of the people and films associated with the label “Soft Film”. Reconstructing this “reactionary cinema” will reveal previously unknown cultural connections with classical and avant-garde Western film theories, and more importantly renovate the established Chinese film canon of the 1930s.


Film Historiography; Revisionist Film History; Liu Na’ou; Soft Film; Chinese Film Studies

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ISSN 2159-2411 (print) 2158-8724 (online)