Rebecca E. Karl is Associate Professor of History at New York University. She is the author of
The Economic as Culture and the Culture of the Economic: Filming Shanghai
This essay compares two films, Crows and Sparrows of the late-1940s and Once Upon a Time in Shanghai of the mid-1990s. Through this comparison, the discussion focuses on the problem of historical repetition, revolution, and continuity as these are represented in the two films. Concentrating on the local ground of Shanghai, the essay argues that each film figures the practice of the economics of the urban in critical and normative ways ideologically appropriate for their times.