Representations of History in Chinese Film and Television


Shi Lang Dajiangjun

Admiral Shi Lang
(TV-drama, PR China 2006)


When the broadcast of this 37-episode TV-drama Admiral Shi Lang started on March 27, 2006, the government of the ROC led by Chen Shuibian had just abolished the National Unification Council and rejected a gift of Pandas by the government of the PRC for the Taibei Zoo. This has led many commentators on the Chinese mainland and abroad to speculate that the drama was not mere entertainment, but a conscious act of political propaganda by the hawks in the PRC military and politics who urged for a quick violent solution of the Taiwan problem. Yet, on the other hand, Shi Lang’s reconfiguration from a traitor to national hero Zheng Chenggong into a national hero in his own right did not go smoothly with the internet community (see Public debate about the TV-drama). These problems have made Admiral Shi Lang to become perhaps the most hotly debated tv drama of the year 2006. The following pages introduce readers to this tv drama.

These pages have been produced during a seminar held in the summer term of 2007 by myself together with students of Chinese Studies at Frankfurt University some of whom wished to be listed only by acronyme. Respecting their will, I wish to thank SB, DJ, Jessika Mende (JM), CVH, MCA, CK, Markus Rohé (MRo), Martin Schneider (MSch), MB, ZW, HZ, JZ, KT, RS, PM, MS, OR, AC, EQ, ZS, Anne Wiesner (AW), Anna Kärcher (AK), CF, MRe, and YW for their great spirit and effort. For German students, to understand the antiquated language of Chinese historical drama and render it into an equally foreign language (English) is not exactly an easy task to accomplish. All participants of the seminar have worked hard and done their best to make this page useful for other readers who are interested in understanding the intricate relationship between politics, history and the media in China. Especially, I wish to thank SB for helping with the final revision of the English text and with unifying the layout and formatting. However, I have to ask readers to be patient with some remaining language deficiencies since none of us, including myself, is a native speaker of English.

My heartfelt thanks go to Prof. Gotelind Müller-Saini whose idea was it to employ film and tv drama to teach history to students and who has set up this home page which now also provides a home for our work. Moreover, I also thank Gundula von Hartrott for technical help in putting these pages up.

© 2008 Elisabeth Kaske