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The Liverpool Companion to World Science Fiction Film$
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Sonja Fritzsche

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9781781380383

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: January 2015

DOI: 10.5949/liverpool/9781781380383.001.0001

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Death Ray on a Coral Island as China’s First Science Fiction Film

Death Ray on a Coral Island as China’s First Science Fiction Film

(p.39) 2. Death Ray on a Coral Island as China’s First Science Fiction Film
The Liverpool Companion to World Science Fiction Film

Jie Zhang

Liverpool University Press

The first Chinese science fiction film, Death Ray on a Coral Island (dir. Hongmei Zhang, 1980) emerged at a defining moment of nation’s history. It not only redefined science fiction as a genre independent from juvenile literature, but also played an important role in the discursive reconstruction of China’s national identity immediately after the destructive Great Cultural Revolution (1966-76). The chapter examines the film in three contexts: 1) the conflicting notions of the modernization and utopia among intellectuals and the state, 2) the influence of contemporary ‘traumatic culture’ and 3) the narrative conventions of Chinese science fiction works. The film was a product of multi-directional negotiations in which boundaries were subtly transgressed and redrawn in order to respond to old concerns and new crises.

Keywords:   Death Ray on Coral Island, Hongmei Zhang, Cultural Revolution, modernization, China, utopia

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