In China, a film could be banned for 20 years, while the novel on which the film is based, sells briskly throughout that same period without any interference from the state censors. How come?
Why is the Cultural Revolution and other sensitive topics regularly discussed in print but remain off-limits on film?
Yu Hua, the author of the book ‘China in Ten Words’, has written an interesting article in New York Times about how books, newspapers, films and tv are all censored in different ways in China, and how this leads to a situation where the Chinese are able to express themselves more freely in books than in movies.
Television censorship is a bit less strict that the film censorship, Yu Hua writes. Newspaper censorship is also relatively more relaxed than film censorship, but then again stricter than book censorship.
The highly publicised demonstrations in January over censorship of Southern Weekend were a rarity, according to Yu Hua, and it was all very quickly hushed up: “The paper has continued to publish. The authorities offered vague commitments of gentler censorship, but have quietly begun retaliating against those who took a stand. The government won in the end, but its censorship had encountered — for the first time in decades — head-on resistance from a press that has become far less docile.”
The New York Times – 27 February 2013:
Censorship’s Many Faces