East Asian Film Remakes
edited by David Scott Diffrient and Kenneth Chan
As the editors of a proposed addition to Edinburgh University Press’ newly launched “Screen Serialities” series, we are seeking abstracts for chapters that explore East Asian film remakes.
Over the past three decades, the subject of cinematic remakes has emerged as a major subdiscipline in film studies, giving rise to a host of critical, philosophical, and theoretical approaches that highlight the historical significance of iterative storytelling within and across different national contexts. Thanks to the ongoing efforts of Daniel Herbert, Kathleen Loock, Claire Perkins, Constantine Verevis, and other scholars who are drawn to the remake’s contradictory appeals and intertextual complexities, this long-disparaged category of filmmaking — once brushed off by critics as little more than a derivative copy or pale imitation of an original text — is now recognized as a legitimate cultural form in its own right, one that aesthetically reframes the distant or recent past while providing a paradoxically nostalgic vantage on modern-day issues. Indeed, with so many published studies of remakes currently available, it would seem that very little remains to be said about a topic that is already brimming with taxonomies and terminology unique to this most “bankable” and pervasive type of cultural production.
Despite a proliferation of books and articles about remakes, however, a regional survey of representative films produced in East Asia has yet to be written. This volume seeks to fill that gap by bringing together contributions from experts in Chinese, Hong Kong, Japanese, South Korean, and Taiwanese cinemas, thereby providing fresh perspectives on a subject that has largely been confined to North American and European contexts. It builds upon important recent publications, including Yiman Wang’s Remaking Chinese Cinema: Through the Prism of Shanghai, Hong Kong and Hollywood (2013) and Sarah Woodland’s Remaking Gender and the Family: Perspectives on Contemporary Chinese-Language Film Remakes (2018), but — as an edited collection of a dozen or more chapters — does not focus exclusively on any one nation’s cinematic output. Instead, motion pictures produced throughout the region will be analyzed and contextualized in relation to the industrial and sociopolitical factors that either facilitate or hinder artistic/commercial enterprises in mainland China, Hong Kong, Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan. With a growing number of multinational coproduction agreements and collaborative partnerships uniting talent from each of these five areas comes the recognition that remakes play a pivotal role in breaking down barriers and building up a sense of shared history. Of course, unresolved territorial disputes and the lingering traumas of previous decades’ armed conflicts, including Japan’s military incursions into its neighboring countries, dampen any such overly optimistic appraisals of a filmmaking category that is chiefly undertaken for economic, rather than ideological, reasons. Nevertheless, it is hoped that a more fully developed picture of East Asia as a cultural sphere will come into view through the exploration of classic and contemporary films that are at once “familiar” and “foreign,” or rather steeped in the combined similarities and differences that makes the remake such a fascinating hermeneutic object.
Contributors are encouraged to adopt any critical methodology of their choice when discussing their case studies. However, as editors of this proposed volume in EUP’s “Screen Serialities” series we are especially interested in approaches that examine the iterative aspects of remakes, which tend to balance repetition and variation and frequently foster cross-cultural connections between otherwise disparate publics.
Possible topics include, but are not limited to:
- the formal and aesthetic characteristics of cinematic remakes
- the production background of cinematic remakes
- the critical reception of cinematic remakes
- fan productions as remakes (remediation)
- unacknowledged/unofficial remakes
- film censorship and the regulation of remakes’ content
- copyright, remake rights, and the question of cinematic “plagiarism”
- remakes and popular genres (e.g., horror, romantic comedy, westerns); the production of nascent genres, subgenres, and hybrid genres as part of the remaking process
- technological updating as a rationale for remakes (e.g., Takashi Miike’s Hara-Kiri: Death of a Samurai , a 3-D color remake of Masaki Kobayashi’s Harakiri ); CGI technologies that enable more creative remaking (for example, films based on Journey to the West)
- the relationship between remakes and homages (e.g., Terry Tong’s Seven Warriors , a tribute to Akira Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai )
- live-action remakes of animated films (e.g., Peter Mak’s Wicked City  and Kim Jee-woon’s Illang: The Wolf Brigade )
- feature-length remakes of short films (e.g., Shin’ya Tsukamoto’s Tetsuo: The Iron Man , an expanded version of The Phantom of Regular Size ; or Hou Hsiao-hsien’s Taiwanese-French production of Flight of the Red Balloon , which is based on Albert Lamorisse’s short film The Red Balloon )
- filmmakers who remade their own earlier films (e.g., Yasujiro Ozu’s Floating Weeds , Chor Yuen’s Lust for Love of a Chinese Courtesan , Kon Ichikawa’s The Burmese Harp , and Ahn Byeong-ki’s Bunshinsaba 2 )
- cross-cultural adaptations of literary texts as the basis for remakes (e.g., Xu Jinglei’s Letter from an Unknown Woman , which draws from Stefan Zweig's 1922 novella of the same title as well as Max Ophüls’s Letter from an Unknown Woman )
Please send your abstract (500-750 words in length) and a brief biographical statement as attachments to the email addresses listed below. The deadline for the submission of proposals is May 30, 2021. Once we have determined which essays to include in the volume, contributors will be contacted with additional information and will have approximately six months after the contracted date to complete their chapters (5,000-7,000 words).
Dr. David Scott Diffrient
Professor of Film and Media Studies
Department of Communication Studies
Colorado State University
Dr. Kenneth Chan
Professor of English and Film Studies
Department of English
University of Northern Colorado
David Scott Diffrient