“I LOVE YOU, WHY DON’T YOU LOVE ME?:” READING UTOPIA IN CHINESE QUEER FEATURES
Queer Cinema , Chinese films , Queer utopia
This paper discusses queer utopianism in Chinese narrative films Farewell My Concubine (1993, dir. Chen Kaige), East Palace, West Palace (1996, dir. Zhang Yuan) and Lan Yu (2001, dir. Stanley Kwan). While they are stories about trauma and loss, there are ways to read them optimistically. And this kind of utopian reading, as Dina Georgis examines in her book The Better Story, allows for a better collective survival (Georgis 13). Using these films as examples and the scholarly works by Jose Muñoz and Petrus Liu as methods, I exhibit three different ways to explore the utopian qualities within each film and argue that they each provide gateways to an imagined queer future. For Farwell, I discuss how the film invites a queer spectator and looks at moments in film that are utopic for a queer audience. For East Palace, West Palace, I argue that the film stages a queer utopia with the portrayal of the main character A Lan and Xiao Shi, and that the film challenges the heteropatriarchal social structure and imagines an expansive queer future. For Lan Yu, I argue that director Stanley Kwan’s adaptation of the film from literature illustrate a brighter, more idealized space for queer people. My readings of the films show that they secure an access to the queer memories and spaces that are lost in mainstream history, and they help managing the loss to anticipate a better future.