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IN THE MASK OF A MARTIAL ART FILM: A CHINESE FILM ADAPTATION OF WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE’S HAMLET

NA MÁSCARA DE UM FILME DE ARTES MARCIAIS: UMA ADAPTAÇÃO CINEMATOGRÁFICA DO HAMLET DE WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE

Abstract:

The release of Chinese film director Feng Xiao Gang’s The Banquet in 2006 declares the first Chinese Hamlet film adaptation. Feng chooses to sinicize the play and interweaving cultural elements by framing the play into a Chinese martial art film and by applying Chinese Nuo mask and its variation in his filmic interpretation of the play. The frame of martial art film is heavily featured as the Chinese cultural touch deployed by the director in the transformation of a western play into a Chinese film, which proves to be an effective tool for displacing the western cultural elements with Chinese cultural ideology and principles. The use of the Nuo mask motif throughout the film is discussed with the following examples: 1. The director’s choice of using the Chinese Nuo mask in his adaptation of the play-within-the-play scene in the film, displacing the Mousetrap with its Nuo drama counterpart. 2. The director’s re-interpretation of Hamlet’s hesitation and madness, his representation of the Ghost and his symbolic approach to the building of characters by adopting a white paper mask. 3. The director’s transfer from the Ghost of Old Hamlet to copper carved mask symbolization. 4. The director’s building of characterization by using one’s own face as the mask. The framing of martial art film and the adoption of Nuo mask are the tools of sinicization in the process of the intercultural film adaptation of the western classic. The success of the film has explored the connections between the two cultures and challenged the transfer of Chinese culture into a western play.

Keywords:
Nuo mask; film adaptation; sinicization; transfer; Hamlet

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