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Foreign Language Cinema: China vs. Hollywood

Chinese language translation is a subject we’ve been focusing on recently, and this has led us to conduct some research on the Chinese film industry. Foreign language films, such as those produced in China, are a great way to learn about another culture and allow you to immerse yourself in the daily life of someone else, no matter which country they’re in. They’re also great language-learning tools, giving you the opportunity to practice a foreign language from the comfort of your own home.

China’s film industry is one that hasn’t seen a great deal of success like the UK and US box offices recently.

Since the release of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon 12 years ago, Chinese cinema hasn’t managed to make much of a mark in box office figures, and there are a number of reasons for this.

First of all, the current government of China has imposed harsh restrictions on creative work. As a result, many features of cinema that are common in Western films are not permitted in Chinese cinema. Anything that can be seen as a tool for propaganda, or features risqué subject matter, is still banned in China, thus greatly restricting what is allowed to be represented on film.

A further difficulty for Chinese cinema on an international level is that there are only a few well-known Chinese actors whose talents are recognised worldwide. The most famous of these is obviously Jackie Chan, but now that he’s well into his fifties, producers are desperately looking for somebody to take his place at the forefront of Chinese cinema. There are a number of actors that are well-known within the industry, but they don’t yet have enough of a following to guarantee success worldwide.

On top of all this, the Chinese public seem to be neglecting their own film industry in favour of Hollywood blockbusters, who have dominated the Chinese box office in recent years. Last year for example, four out of the five top grossing movies were Hollywood productions.

As an avid follower of international cinema, I would certainly be glad to see more Chinese films benefiting from international release, but what do you think? Is the allure of Hollywood too strong for Chinese cinema, or is there a place for Chinese cinema on the world scale? Let us know your thoughts!

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About Sharon Stephens

Sharon Stephens is Operations Director of Lingua Translation. With a First Class Honours Degree in Translation and a University Lecturer in Translation (Masters), she is a self confessed language geek! Bringing the academic principles of translation and business together Sharon offers a quality-driven and needs centric translation and interpreting service - like no other.

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