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Labour strikes in the dying light of Hong Kong left-wing cinema

Cunliffe, Tom; (2023) Labour strikes in the dying light of Hong Kong left-wing cinema. Journal of Chinese Cinemas , 16 (2) pp. 165-183. 10.1080/17508061.2023.2266130. Green open access

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Abstract

The Younger Generation (1971), made at the Hong Kong left-wing studio Great Wall, is a family melodrama that specifically outlines the accumulation imperative by which the industrialist capitalist implements exploitative practices to gain more and more value out of the workers at a factory. This film depicts female factory workers’ solidarity when they decide to pursue collective action and strike in protest against these inhumane working conditions. This essay focuses on how this film negotiates class relations in Hong Kong society, how it resists and critiques the dominant ideology of capitalism in 1970s Hong Kong, gives a voice to those whose voice is rarely heard in commercial cinema and in the power structures that define who has the right to be heard, and finally how it proffers, however mildly, a more positive and optimistic vision. By contextualising the historical conditions within which the film was made, this essay assesses how this film responds to Hong Kong’s colonial capitalist conditions and argues against the critical consensus that the Hong Kong left-wing cinema made during the Cultural Revolution period was all merely communist propaganda. Instead, it looks at how the film identifies the structural inequalities caused by capitalism and articulates the importance of labour struggle to help create a more just world, and as such contributes to global discourses on labour struggle.

Type: Article
Title: Labour strikes in the dying light of Hong Kong left-wing cinema
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1080/17508061.2023.2266130
Publisher version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/17508061.2023.2266130
Language: English
Additional information: © 2023 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/), which permits non-commercial re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited, and is not altered, transformed, or built upon in any way. The terms on which this article has been published allow the posting of the Accepted Manuscript in a repository by the author(s) or with their consent.
Keywords: Arts & Humanities, Film, Radio, Television, Film, Radio & Television, labour strikes, Hong Kong left-wing cinema, social class, political cinema
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of Arts and Humanities
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of Arts and Humanities > SELCS
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10184805
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