Seung-Hwan Shin (University of Pittsburgh), "North by West: The Manchurian Western and Minoritarian Cinema"

Réalisation : 15 novembre 2018 Mise en ligne : 15 novembre 2018
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Reflecting on the Western’s developmentafter WWII, André Bazin noted,“Its roots continue to spread under the Hollywood humus and…robust suckersspring up in the midst of the seductive but sterile hybrids” (“TheEvolution of the Western”). Thiscomment may feel puzzling to those familiar with his qualms over postwarWesterns that relied onextrinsic elements such as moral struggle, stylization, and eroticism tojustify their existence. However, it becomes a powerful metaphor for theWestern’s global dissemination. Its persistentgerminations in far-flung lands confirm that unlike its decrepit trunk at home,its rhizomes have remained healthy and continued to sprawl out under therigidly territorialized surface. Thus, hinging on what charm the primarilyAmerican genre gained in non-American contexts, my paper looks into the ManchurianWestern with a particular focus on TheGood, the Bad, the Weird (Kim Jee-woon, 2008). In a country like Korea both geographically and culturallydistant from America, the Western’s adaptations have involved more friction andmore tortuous process of transposition. Yet, the Manchurian Western becomes allthe more interesting for its rhizomatic diffusion. Its reworking of the Western’s epic outlook in non-epiccontexts (e.g., colonial Manchuria) indeed reminds us of notions like “minorliterature” (Deleuze) that often borrows foreign idioms to turn nomadic towardits own language. In theorizing Manchurian Westerns as minoritarian cinema, I explorehow they integrate foreign tropes with countercultural sensibilities in Koreansociety, more specifically, how a film like The Good, the Bad, the Weird recasts history of imperialism in the East Asian context in transposingLeone’s sarcastic treatment of American mythopoeia onto occupied Manchuria, andalso weirds national history by mixingit and mercenary characters into a jarring juxtaposition. Accordingly, I read ManchurianWesterns as defiant of such entrenched frameworksas historical authenticity and the Hollywood/non-Hollywood binary.



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