Metamorpho-poetic Legending in 1950s Film: (1) Ashima

[[[[[In the language of that short-lived moment, the films and their two balletic cousins were (originally) sponsored as “Revolutionary Romanticism”, a category more related to language and dramatis personae than to any obvious flight from Red orthodoxy. It was beginning to end a counter-censorship: the puppet-like acting and stilted “revolutionary” language uttered by equally stilted heroes of the Struggle was (perhaps because it left so bad a taste in the mouths of potential foreign supporters – but also because Maoist fanaticism was peaking then falling inn the wake of the “pure” politics of the Great Leap) was to be turned on its head. “No politics, no slogans” (the two meant the same thing.,.)

//// But where could “from-the-people” tales suitable for so demanding a a formula (redemptive but tragic romantic opera in color film etc.) be found?

Again to much oversimplify: in the fantasy land of the ever uncomplaining (that is, to outsiders) non-Han lineages of the S and SW, and in their still relatively chthonic, orally recited myths, unique in the Greater Imperium in that they were not at the time allowed (even able to) move off the Reservation, any more than corruptive “Han” vaudeville was (willingly) allowed in. (Topography and climate alone mandated much of this…).

Here at least one could display (in film) an almost incredible loyalty to geological place and a singularity of the mythological protectorship that contrasted very profoundly with the Daoist pantheism and livelihood linkage to (seasonal) travel that were so dominant in the more riverine or low-lying “core” country, the domain of “Han” language and culture.]]]

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