This essay focuses on the cinematic form of revolutionary melodrama, or, more specifically, on alterations made to family melodrama in the construction of the big socialist family as an imagined social space. Reading Red Detachment of Women (1961) in the tradition of family melodrama, the author examines the ways the film transforms the genre and conjures up an alternative socialist space, which also provides room for more fluid gender formations that radically redefine such notions as women and femininity. This essay also uncovers in the film an affective space contiguous with both the private and the public, suggesting a sort of collectivity that neither presumes autonomous individuals nor is subsumed to a unitary state power.

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