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Rethinking the Female Voice and the Ideology of Sound:On Stanley Kwan’s film Center Stage (Ruan Lingyu, 1992)

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This chapter examines the dialectically coded personae of Hong Kong actresses, Maggie Cheung and Sammi Cheng, in Stanley Kwan’s Center Stage (1992) and Everlasting Regret (2005). It posits the articulation of the Cantonese-speaking Cheung in Center Stage appears translatable between the personifier and personified, but this translatability is obscured by slippery mimicry. In contrast, Sammi Cheng, the female lead of Everlasting Regret, speaks accented Mandarin, conspicuously making her image not translatable into the Mandarin-speaking narrative world but is redeemed by a flexible and mutable vocal existence. With the attempt to deal with the dialectics of the obscure and the conspicuous, this chapter explores how the code-switching female agency is mobilized and contended in the Hong Kong–China coproductions directed by a male filmmaker, who struggles to cast a voice in moments of historical, cultural, and linguistic changes.