Dr. Jessica Sternfeld
Hong Kong: a city characterized by Jackie Chan, kung fu, and its surprising “in-betweenness.” Not quite Eastern and not quite Western, Hong Kong has been placed in a unique position due to its recent handover from Great Britain to China. As a result of this handover, the people of Hong Kong have displayed various attitudes towards their previous, foreign system of democratic government and their new, Communist system of government. Hong Kong’s cultural identity is closely tied with the handover, and in this paper, I analyze how the film music of Hong Kong movies have conveyed ideas about their cultural identity. Specifically through the analysis of A Better Tomorrow (1986), Beast Cops (1998), and In the Mood for Love (2000), I illustrate how Hong Kong’s attitudes toward their governing powers and their cultural identity have changed over time. When Hong Kong was a British colony, A Better Tomorrow (1986) conveyed a sense of sentimentality and the inclusion of Cantopop songs give the film a clear sense of Cantonese-ness. A year after the handover, Beast Cops (1998) displayed the dissatisfaction of Hong Kong-ers towards both British and Chinese governments through its use of popular music and leitmotifs. In the Mood for Love (2000) is punctuated by musical themes of longing and injustice – representing the desire of Hong Kong to be autonomous and free. Hong Kong’s unique political history merits a close examination of its movies, thus demonstrating how films, and film music, can serve as an important marker of cultural identity.
Liu, Kasady, ""In the Sentimental Past": Cultural Identity Through Film Music Before and After the Hong Kong Handover" (2019). Student Scholar Symposium Abstracts and Posters. 350.
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