Shot by Chris Doyle (who has also worked with Chen Kaige and Wong Kar-wai), this contemporary epic about the position of women in Taiwanese society helped change the face of Taiwanese film. Two women – Lin Chia-li (superstar Sylvia Chang, in a breakthrough role) and Tan (Teresa Hu) – meet after many years. Tan, a famous concert pianist, was once engaged to Lin Chia-li’s brother, but parental opposition broke up the romance; Lin Chia-li, on the other hand, defied her parents and married for love. Her marriage is far from happy however. As with Yang’s other films, the characters are paralyzed by the conflicting forces of modernity and tradition, a battle that wages both outside and within them, especially in the case of Lin Chia-li. Her rejection of a tradition she saw as oppressive has only left her feeling strangely empty. For many critics, THAT DAY, ON THE BEACH is the widest ranging look at what it means to be a woman in contemporary Taiwan. “The subtlety of Yang and Chang merge together to form an irresistible emotional force” (David Overbey, Toronto International Film Festival). —cinemathequeontario.ca
Though largely unknown in the West, Edward Yang emerged, over the course of two decades, as one of international cinema’s most distinctive voices and, along with Hou Hsiao Hsien, one of Taiwan’s finest filmmakers. Born in Shanghai in 1947, Yang fled with his family to Taiwan during the tumult of the Chinese Civil War. At a young age, he found creative inspiration in Japanese comic books and soon began writing his own works. In 1974, having received an advanced degree in Computer Science at Florida State University, he went on to study film at the University of Southern California. He quickly grew disillusioned with the program’s commercial emphasis, however, and withdrew after only one semester. He remained in America, working as a computer expert for several years. During this time, he kindled his passion for cinema by writing a script and aiding the production of the Hong Kong television movie Winter of 1905 (1981). Upon his return to Taiwan, he directed a number of television shows… read more
A woman reunites with a long lost girlfriend, hoping to find out what happened to the girlfriend's brother, her past love. Instead, the other woman confesses her life's disintegration, and the film veers off into this whole new direction. Edward Yang is one of cinema's greatest storytellers. His debut demonstrates the novelistic richness he imbues into every one of his films. In this melodramatic woman's picture, we have "flashbacks within flashbacks", scenes that "echo", major digressions, and abrupt changes in narrative point-of-view, all held together by Yang's neat transition devices such as visual rhymes and sound overlaps, ensuring the grace and effortlessness of Yang's epic storytelling. The misery of these middle-class characters, revealed by the coldness of their interactions, is linked to the corruption of the workplace, the anxiety attendant with economic mobility, and the hopelessness in getting away from all these troubles. No one is really living in this film, only slowly dying. Or is that a ray of hope at the film's end?
Finally got to see this at this year's Taipei Golden Horse Film Festival (Sylvia Chang tribute). Instead of going into an incoherent ramble, I'll just say ... wow. And for a first movie. The print quality was rather poor, with subtitles barely readable. Maybe Marty will have to rescue this too. Spoken languages are actually Mandarin, Taiwanese, German, and Japanese.
Yang’s creative ethos is summed up by two of his lesser known films: A Confucian Confusion and Mahjong .