Post-cultural revolution Chinese cinema of betrayal: the figure of the collaborator and the doubling paradigm

Raya Morag*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Drawing on the prevailing theoretical paradigm of post-Holocaust research, which defines primarily the post-traumatic subject positions of victim and perpetrator, this paper focuses on the Chinese cinema’s representation of collaboration during the Cultural Revolution (CR). It discusses the issue of betrayal inside the real or symbolic family, which is still unexplored and even overlooked by Chinese cinema research. Furthermore, it analyzes the prolonged and profound identity crisis generated by the CR as presented by twenty-first century blockbuster (e.g. Zhang Yimou’s Coming Home) and independent films (e.g. Wu Wenguang’s 1966: My Time in the Red Guards and Investigating My Father) especially through the figure of the collaborator and the destructive dynamics of betrayal. In these films, the process I term the ‘doubling paradigm,’ and its ‘doubling effect’ enable the spectator to come to terms with the dimensions of pain and loss caused by collaboration, and the ethical repercussions of revolutionary morality. Following an analysis of the four forms of collaboration which emerge from this corpus, this discussion points to the potential contribution of Chinese ‘cinema of betrayal’ to the undertheorized subject position of the collaborator, beyond the Chinese case.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)556-576
Number of pages21
Issue number4
StatePublished - 3 Jul 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.


  • Chinese cinema
  • Collaboration
  • Wu Wenguang
  • Zhang Yimou
  • cultural revolution
  • the doubling effect
  • the doubling paradigm


Dive into the research topics of 'Post-cultural revolution Chinese cinema of betrayal: the figure of the collaborator and the doubling paradigm'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this