Taiwanese cinema and local identity Essay

Taiwanese cinema and local identityMovies, a hardcore visual medium with a script, reflect and stimulate a changing society in ways that are inexplicable and intangible. But, good or bad societal behavior is to a large extent attributed to the kind of cinema its country produces.Taiwanese has historically seen foreign colonizers invading them and their basic freedom one after the other, for more than four centuries. The rule of the Japanese empire was preceded by the controls of Dutch, Spanish and Manchu Empire, and finally, the Republic of China under KMT Chinese Nationalist Regime – all brutal in their attempt to obliterate Taiwan’s identity. “One of the most significant transformations in Taiwan during this period has been the rise of a new national identity centered on Taiwan proper, and founded on the political experiences shared by citizens in Taiwan.

Taiwanese increasingly identify Taiwan as their own country, while considering Chinese cultures to be their origins and roots” (Taiwan identity and China: 1987-2007).Apparently, Taiwanese ethnicity has long been a burning issue with its citizens disappointed at the prevailing political rivalry, causing the manifest chaos. A big healer and leveler that cinema is, citizens and their creative minds have evolved concepts exploiting cinema’s visual elements, potentially affecting a larger section of the public; and, influencing their psyche to carve an identity niche for themselves.

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To this effect, a Taiwanese movie that triggered a sense of rejuvenation and hope, is the widely acclaimed, Cape No. 7, a blockbuster for all the class. Not only does it ably capture the imagination of resurrecting local identity but keep the flavor and ardor intact also.“A big-hearted let’s-put-on-show comedy centered on a despondent musician who gets his mojo back with a band of eccentric amateurs in his provincial hometown” (Variety).The plot, with music as a driving force, has a Japanese pop star scheduled to be in a concert, which is to be preceded by a curtain raiser event, for which a local band auditions and eventually triumphs at the end. The story, with four languages used throughout – Mandarin, Taiwanese, Japanese and English, takes one through the emotional travails each character experiences within; whilst, the main protagonist, a rebellious rock star, has a point to prove.

What is symbolically exciting about the movie, capturing a small town life in Hangchun, vis-à-vis ordinary people of Taiwan, is its transformation from complete non-existence to a body of strength, courage and identity. Its genre, drawing tremendous parallels to the real life struggle of people, gives enough psychological ammunition, in a light-hearted way, for a indefatigable fight back by its citizenry.One of the most successful Taiwanese films ever, Cape No. 7 is heartening to be seen in an unlikely love story adding freshness to the primary plot – a story that reaches transnational with both the main protagonist and a Japanese ex-model, the organizer of the band, developing cross-cultural attraction.

Attracting widespread global attention, the movie’s magic rests in its humor, civility and friendliness. The strength being its audience, the ordinary people who  just follow along the story, giving themselves a sense of déjà vu, as if the sequence of events in reel is actually possible in their real lives.Not so much before Cape No. 7 has the Taiwanese flavor and identity so wonderfully been captured!Works CitedTaiwan Identity and China: 1987-2007 http://www.opendemocracy.net/article/democracy_power/china_taiwan_identityVarietyhttp://www.variety.com/review/VE1117938959.html?categoryid=31&cs=1 


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