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Under the ‘Fourth World’: A Discussion to the Transformation of Character-Settings in Chinese Ethnic Minority Films

Authors: Sicheng Liu


Based on the key issue of the current fourth world studies, the article aims to analyze the features of character-settings in Chinese ethnic minority films. As a generalizable transformation, this feature progresses from a microcosmic representation. It argues that, as the mediation, films note down the current state of people and their surroundings, while the ‘fourth world’ theorization (or the fourth cinema) provides a new perspective to ethnic minority topics in China. Like the ‘fourth cinema’ focusing on the depiction of indigeneity groups, the ethnic minority films portrait the non-Han nationalities in China. Both types possess the motif of returning history-writing to the minority members’ own hand. In this article, the discussion entirely involves three types of cinematic role-settings in Chinese minority themed films, which illustrates that, similar to the creative principle of the fourth film, the themes and narratives of these films are becoming more individualized, with more concern to minority grassroots.

Keywords: Fourth world, Chinese ethnic minority films, ethnicity and culture reflection, mother tongue (muyu), highlighting to individual spirits.

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