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Moving FiguresClass and Feeling in the Films of Jia Zhangke$
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Corey Kai Nelson Schultz

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9781474421614

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: January 2019

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9781474421614.001.0001

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The Worker Class: From Leader to the Margins

The Worker Class: From Leader to the Margins

(p.20) Chapter 1 The Worker Class: From Leader to the Margins
Moving Figures

Corey Kai Nelson Schultz

Edinburgh University Press

Chapter 1 analyzes the representation of the worker figure. This was the class that was created in the Maoist period to develop the nation and serve as the “vanguard” of the Maoist state, but now its members are wretched and are in the process of being replaced by migrant workers (mingong) without the former worker figure’s previous status, skills, or power. It examines the feelings that the figures stimulate in the films, which range from pride to shame, adulation to pity, development to ruin, and progress to decay, and notes how their previous status as “builders” of the nation is juxtaposed with the films’ depictions of the ruin, a motif that is attached specifically to this class. It argues that the film 24 City commemorates the factory and the worker class through its use of “portraits in performance” and “memories in performance,” arguing that, although they commemorate the factory and its members, they produce a structure of feeling of nostalgia that ultimately elegizes this group’s irreversible decline and disappearance in the Reform era and resigns them to the past.

Keywords:   Worker, Ruin, Moving Portraits, Documentary aesthetics, Performative documentaries

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