Date of Award

Fall 2019

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



Committee Chair

Christopher Campbell

Committee Chair School


Committee Member 2

Phillip Gentile

Committee Member 2 School


Committee Member 3

Cheryl Jenkins

Committee Member 3 School


Committee Member 4

Vanessa Murphree

Committee Member 4 School


Committee Member 5

Fei Xue

Committee Member 5 School



It is imperative to recognize the ongoing collaborations of filmmakers from different countries. Film director Zhang Yimou, cited in this work, has reached out beyond his Chinese borders in recruiting both cast and crew on many of his latest features. But the field of film studies appears to have limited their investigations of such cross-cultural analyses, in particular the subjective analysis of the female lead character in film. Subjective and culturally wired as such, researchers bring forth conscious observations from their socialized unconscious minds.

This textual analysis begins with a comparison of two Chinese films, particularly observing their similar female lead characters. This study illustrates how the ingrained cultural visions of film director Zhang Yimou are at his disposal to construct the appropriate cultural elements of the mise-en-scene in the making of the two films. The next chapter analyzes one film using a mode of gender representation known as “gazing” that strongly suggests a power dynamic in the female lead character’s non-verbal behavior. The last group of films crosses the cross-cultural line. By comparing a Western text to the “other” Eastern version of the same story, the task is to observe the changes involved in the unveiling and subsequent transparency of the female lead character. These observations look for the motives and emotions that define the female lead character, and contribute to the advancement to the plot. All of the films chosen for this study possess the characteristic style and form of the melodramatic.