China’s Fifth Generation Filmmakers brought forth a burst of transformative cinema, but it could not be done without the strong historical antecedents of cultural turmoil and official censorship steered by the singular political course of the Chinese Communist Party. This group of filmmakers, particularly Chen Kaige (b. 1952), Tian Zhuangzhuang (b. 1952), and Zhang Yimou (b. 1951), produced a national cinema that was defined by censorship. It became their dilemma to define a course within the confines of censorship that not only absorbed the duality of censorship, which serves to both condemn and to promote, but also defied and altered that course to serve their own purposes. Their films became experiments at resolving this dilemma. Each filmmaker focused on his own unique way of recanting censorship boundaries, but together they brought Chinese cinema to the forefront of world attention. Unfortunately, this legacy served to entrap them in a self-censorship of expectations. They have found it difficult to progress beyond their own achievements as they continue to face a double standard of censorship both by their government and by national critics who decry their work as biased by Orientalism and Westernization. Their circumscription by censorship is complete and unprecedented.
Urban, Elizabeth C., "The Evolution of Revolution: The Dilemma of Censorship and Fifth Generation Filmmakers" (2010). Honors College Theses. 88.