Remembered Childhoods: Representing the Everyday Lives of Children in Some East Asian Films

  • Lee, S. (Speaker)
  • Fengxia Tan (Speaker)
  • John Stephens (Speaker)

Activity: Talk or presentationPresentation


In an era of vast social and economic changes, East Asian films about childhood are often retrospective, memorialising everyday lives in a disappeared time. In sample films from China, Japan and South Korea, we explore a common action schema (or ‘script’) of childhood. In narratives framed within local space and consisting more of vignettes than unified plot, this schema involves: school life in built environments which render children transgressive; friendships, bullying and victimisation; violence at the hands of peers, teachers and parents; illnesses and mishaps; everyday anxieties and restrictions; the limited agency of childhood in a world run by and for adults whose behavioural codes children don’t understand and whose values they don’t share; fear of exclusion and loneliness; and deaths and disappearances of relatives and friends. This complex of experiences is nuanced differently in different cultures as the interaction of individuals with local spaces reflects different modes of representing the reality of everyday life, from the dialogue with socialist realism in the Chinese Thatched Memories, to the neo-realism of the South Korean When I Turned Nine, and finally to a locality palpably inhabited by supernatural beings in the Japanese Village of Dreams, producing a film which Western critics might describe as magical realist.
Period12 Aug 2016
Event titleDepartment of International Studies Seminar Series
Event typeSeminar
LocationSydney, AustraliaShow on map
Degree of RecognitionInternational