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Adaptation From Modern Chinese Literature

Films and stories adaptation play significant functions in modern Chinese literature. It is crucial to analyze films whose directors adapt fictional novels and writers who make screenplays or integrate film techniques in their artworks to comprehend the adaptations. Adapted films possess some components of short stories, such as symbolism, contrast, tone, and mood of the narrator. Techniques such as cinematographic features (e.g., the 180-degree rule, montages, reaction shots) are applied in modern Chinese films. The characters are depicted through body language- facial expressions, tonal variation, and other visual effects. This paper analyses stylistic devices and associated techniques employed in modern Chinese literature with particular reference to Lust Caution‘s short story by Chang Eileen and its sister film, Lust Cation film directed by Ang Lee. The paper further tackles techniques employed in New Year’s Sacrifice by Lu Xun’s short story and its espionage film, New Year’s Sacrifice film directed by Beijing Studio.

Lust Caution, by Ellen Eileen, is a feminist response set in Shanghai during the second world war. Through description, the author brings to light the issues people face in making difficult life decisions. The title of the story signifies both Lust and love. Mrs. Mai reaches happiness by attempting romantic passion and luxury. However, she follows what others expect of her. Her role is to seduce Mr. Yee and make his assassination a reality. Two issues politicize the short story, assassination and war.

Chang is a famous critic of contemporary topics, notably feminist. She uses various narrative techniques to highlight her themes. In her works other literary works, such as Great Felicity, Steamed Osmanthus Flower: Ah Xiao’s Unhappy Autumn, and Traces of love, she amicably applies description to highlight her feminist notions. The story Lust Caution presents readers with different concerns that need sound judgment associated with high critical thinking on feminist response to the totalizing political narrative. Chang believed that an artist should be recognized and judged on her artistic ability to air issues on our political thoughts. In the short story, romance, politics, and passion are significant concerns in societies. Chang uses different characters whose lovers face dilemmas in their relationships. Through the characters, the author portrays feminism as one of the core unrecognized and unfulfilled issues in our society. The point is put across through characters, such as Mrs. Mai, a businessman who reaches happiness by attempting romantic passion and luxury. Although the story is set during the Sino-Japanese War, family topics, romantic relationships, and societal peace take significant preference on people’s lives. Family topics, romantic relationships, and societal integration are intrinsic and internal values grounded in our beings.

Lust Caution‘s short story by Chang Eileen is adapted to an erotic espionage film directed by Ang Lee. Like the story, the title of the film implies the ring that denotes both Lust and love. The film has erotic scenes (Lee, 2007). Lust Cation film is an example of a historical film based on Zheng Pingru’s attempt to assassinate Japanese Spy Ding Mocun. Although the two literary works carry similar themes, the techniques are different. For example, unlike the short story, the film displaces textual fidelity in the short story. The movie has episodes of graphic sex (Lee, 2007). In this context, the sex scenes are full of nudity graphics. However, Lee quickly acknowledges the author of the works on her love of family life. The setting of a literary world aids in plot development. The short story Lust Cation s and its sister film have different geographical settings. While the film has two geographical settings, the short story has one setting. The film has set in Hong Kong and Shanghai under the leadership of the Japanese army.

Hong Kong setting is in 1938 and Shanghai in 1942The film depicts university students who organize to assassinate a special agent through a seducer (Lee, 2007). They plan to assassinate Mr. Yee, a Japanese spy, through an undercover, Mrs. Mai. Mr. Yee is lured to the assassination area. However, he escapes. The two interrelated readings of the title, Lust, cautious, denote an interwoven story of Lust and love through symbolism. A ring is used as a symbol. The film uses basic editing methods such as shot/reverse shots, the 180-degree rule, montages, reaction shots, and transitions between shots. The film’s application of TV-style cutting, establishing shot, and overlapping editing outperform other techniques.

The tone is one of the vital techniques of films. The film should present its tone in the first opening scenes. The opening sequence of Lust Caution‘s film predetermines the movie’s tone. The director aptly establishes the tone of the movie. He applies the opening scenes to showcase the tone in the first five minutes. The presentation of the tone is vital as it facilitates the audience to respond appropriately to the film’s opening scenes. The tone is clear from the beginning. The first scene is enough to set the tone of the film. There is a contrast applied in the film’s opening scene. Our understanding of textual fidelity and its actions is contrasted with our imagination. Unlike the story, the film bears various cinematographic features. The genre of the film is a mockumentary. A mockumentary is also known as a mock portmanteau. It refers to a movie genre comprising documentaries presented in cinematography form showcasing fictitious stories that are generally humorous. Although the film and the story have differences, Mrs. Mai’s role in seducing Mr. Yee and making his assassination a reality climaxes everything.

Lu Xun narrates the narrative of a lady living a life of sorrow in the short story New Year’s Sacrifice. The narrator is devoted to changing the Chinese Culture (Xun, 1978). Through his writing, he challenges the social fabric of the Chinese and aims at illustrating the prejudiced state of Chinese females. The narrator attempts to motivate societal transformations. The story exposes the ill-treatment of a woman who is finally subdued by external moral degradation issues. The narrator uses the protagonist, Xiang Lin’s wife, to illustrate a setting where women are prejudiced (Xun, 1978). Three forces affect her, marital status, society naivety, and religion. Her depiction as a widow also added to her depression. She works as a maidservant from her neighborhood. The narrator uses the protagonist to keep the reader in suspense. The readers are kept eager to know what happens next. The protagonist exposes various themes; superstition, religion, traditions, marriage, and women’s rights (Xun, 1978). In recording the historical personnel, filming voice actors is applied. The concept is significant as it alters lip-synching, vital for starting new conservations.

The story New Year’s Sacrifice by Lu Xun was adapted to a movie by Beijing Studio. Presentation is a vital film technique. New Year’s Sacrifice film is filmed as a documentary, presenting it as a true mockumentary. The application of presentation style limits the cinematography of the film. However, unlike the short story, the actors address the camera and the audience directly, making it unnecessary to introduce the characters directly. The process increases the relationship between the audience and the movie. They feel they are part of the film. The director uses multiple techniques such as Chroma key, image warping, rotoscoping, and morphing to effectively link the protagonist and the other actors.

The movie producers retain some core components of the short story, such as the grim mood of the narrator. New Year’s Sacrifice film is among the most reflective movies the audience engages in due to cinematography. The film employs cinematographic characteristics and depicts the characters through body language- tonal variation, facial expressions, and other visual effects. While the film uses basic editing methods such as montages, shot/reverse shots, the 180-degree rule, reaction shots, and transitions between shots, it is the film’s use of TV-style cutting, establishing shot, and overlapping editing that truly shines. Overlapping editing is used in the movie (Sang, 1956). The screenplay has the constituents of contemporary fiction. The actors showcase a breathtaking performance full of comedy and quiet truths. New Year’s Sacrifice film is considered a central component of humanities and includes visual literacy and historical imaginations. The concept is central to human experiences and lays the ground for developing a civically engaging life. However, the producers eliminate the narrator in the film (Sang, 1956). The characters’ visual expressions illustrate the film themes; superstition, religion, traditions, and women’s rights.

Short stories and films adaptation play vital roles in contemporary Chinese literature. It is significant to comprehend fictional novels and writers who incorporate film techniques in their artworks. Adapted movie producers retain some core components of a short story, such as the tone and mood of the narrator. Various techniques such as cinematographic characteristics are applied in films. The characters are depicted through body language- the tonal variation, facial expressions, and other visual effects. Films also apply basic editing methods such as montages, shot/reverse shots, 180-degree shots, reaction shots, and transitions between shots. Other strategies employed include TV-style cutting and overlapping editing.


Lee, A. (2007). Lust, Cautious (film). River Road Entertainment.

Chang E. (1979). Lust, caution, and other stories. Penguin books.

Sang, H. (1956). New Year’s Sacrifice (Film). Beijing Film Studio

Xun, L. (1978). New Year’s Sacrifice. Peking: Foreign languages press.


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