David C. Lam Institute for East-West Studies
Romantic melodrama, or wenyi pian, is the master genre of Chinese-language cinema. Wenyi used to be the staple for Taiwan popular cinema and served as the backbone of the industry of the 1960s and the 1970s until the advent of the New Cinema. Wenyi the vernacular was replaced by wenxue (literature) the respectable in the New Cinema in order to transform Taiwan cinema into a serious art with a substantial social and cultural currency. The disappearing wenyi tradition appears to enjoy a return in recent attempts to rehabilitate Taiwan popular cinema. In films of Ang Lee, for instance, we see a transplantation/transposition of Mandarin classics of the 1950s and the 1960s to his Eat Drink Man Woman and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. The paper examines the return not as simply a connection with the patrimony of Taiwan cinema, but a self-aware appropriation and talk back to the cinematic fathers.
Yeh, Emilie Yueh-yu. Innovation or Recycling? Mandarin Classics and the Return of the Wenyi Tradition. Hong Kong: David C. Lam Institute for East-West Studies, 2006. LEWI Working Paper Series no 47.