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Type: Journal article
Title: Female protagonists and the role of smoking in Chinese and French cinema
Author: Pugsley, P.
McCann, B.
Citation: Asian Cinema, 2016; 27(1):59-83
Publisher: Intellect
Issue Date: 2016
ISSN: 1059-440X
Statement of
Peter C. Pugsley and Ben McCann
Abstract: A number of recent Chinese and French films include frequent images of smoking by young female characters. This observation leads us to consider whether this is merely a conventional genre trope, or if it is a broader reflection of changes in the ways that filmmakers wish to represent young women in these national cultures. We contend that smoking on-screen can be viewed as a sign of potential change toward empowerment, individualism and increased risk-taking for young women in a globalizing world. Smoking has long been glamourized by filmmakers despite clear research showing that it is a harmful and addictive activity. Its determined use as a prop for the femme fatale, for instance, plays an important and lasting role in the film noir (and neo-noir) aesthetic. We explore the role of risk-taking female protagonists in contemporary Chinese and French films, including Ang Lee’s Se, Jie / Lust, Caution, Wong Kar-Wai’s 2046 (2004), Claude Miller’s Thérèse Desqueyroux (2012), and Pierre Salvadori’s Hors de Prix / Priceless (2006). Furthermore, we investigate the gendered aesthetics of on-screen ‘tobacco imagery’ as a narrative device that confirms the convention of female protagonists (including the femme fatale) as a risk taker.
Keywords: China; France; aesthetics; femme fatale; smoking; female protagonists; risk
Rights: © 2016 Intellect Ltd. Peter C. Pugsley and Ben McCann have asserted their right under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act, 1988, to be identified as the authors of this work in the format that was submitted to Intellect Ltd.
DOI: 10.1386/ac.27.1.59_1
Published version:,id=219/view,page=0/
Appears in Collections:Aurora harvest 8
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