Sunday, July 1, 2007

EDWARD YANG (1947-2007)

11.06.1947 – 06.29.2007

After the founding of the People’s Republic of China in 1949 many of the filmmakers who worked in Shanghai moved to the island of Taiwan. Many of the films they made here were commercial martial arts and melodramas. However, beginning in the 1980s a couple visionary artists emerged to create a Taiwanese New Wave. Among these auteurs was Edward Yang who was born in China, grew up in Taiwan and was educated in the United States. The groundbreaking film of the movement is perhaps Yang’s third feature, 1985’s Taipei Story which is co-written and stars the other key figure of the Taiwanese New Wave (Hou Hsiao-hsien). Yang’s mastery with rich detailed characters and narrative against an urban Taiwan setting is fully evident here. In many ways this may be the most collective film of Yang’s style and approach in that it captures his sense of multi-generation Taiwan as well as his trademark alienated youth against an urban environment (a visual expression that recalls Italian master Michelangelo Antonioni). Yang gained worldwide attention with the 2000 release of the epic Yi Yi, which won praise all over the world including a Best Director win at Cannes. Yi Yi is just Yang’s 9th film, but it has placed him among the forefront of the world auteurs. His highly anticipated 10th feature was long in pre-production as Yang battled colon cancer since 2000. His death leaves behind a great filmmaker, essential to the Taiwanese new wave.


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