Director Wu Nien-Jen’s autobiographical portrait of his father and the family conflict that develops around him, set against the background of dramatic political change in Taiwan.
Sega, a coal-miner who grew up in the years of Japanese colonial rule over Taiwan, is more strongly attracted to Japanese identity and culture than to the Mainland Chinese model imposed after the Kuomintang takeover in 1945. His son Wen-Jian on the other hand, typically for his generation, has a natural allegiance to Chinese culture. He is baffled by and impatient with his father’s fondness for the Japanese, a bafflement intensified by the harshly negative portrayal of Japanese imperialist ambitions and wartime atrocities he is exposed to at school.
At the same time, Sega’s relationship with his wife and children alternates between abuse and affection, a pattern emblematic of postwar Taiwanese society as it navigates between competing versions of history.
Andrew Chan in Film Comment wrote:
[O]ne of Taiwanese cinema’s most clear-eyed explorations of family dynamics—a distinction it shares with [Edward] Yang’s Yi Yi, which introduced Wu to Western audiences in the role of yet another discontented father figure…Wu questions how knowable a family ultimately is, even to those who belong to it. The unspoken anxiety permeating his recollections is that his profound attachment to his father might unravel under scrutiny, proving as inexplicable and illusory as Sega’s stubborn identification with a Japan he never visited. Few films have so vividly re-created the sensation of having known another human being for one’s entire life, while simultaneously evoking the suspicion that all along one has loved a stranger.
Nominated by Martin Scorsese as third on his list of the top 10 films of the 1990s. He told Roger Ebert: “The camera remains still, it lives with the characters, and it observes their most difficult emotional interactions with a restraint that often becomes painful. This is a movie that forces you to re-think how you view movies. If you go with it, if it clicks for you, the results are very rewarding.”
2.36GB | 2 h 47 min | 686×428 | mkv
Language(s):Min Nan (with some Mandarin and a little Japanese)
Subtitles:Traditional Chinese (hardcoded); English (srt, default)