Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Film Dust in the Wind (Lianlian fengchen; Hou Hsiao-hsien, 1986)

Tonight, I saw the Taiwanese film, Dust in the Wind, shown by the Duke University Screen Society. I teach a course on the films of the Japanese master Yasujiro Ozu, and was interested in seeing this film as I had read that it is reminiscent of the understated style of Ozu's.

I found Dust in the Wind to be somewhat slow, detached, and not as emotionally powerful as Ozu's films, but worth watching as a glimpse of local color into (I think) 1950s or early 1960s rural Taiwanese culture. The character development was somewhat shallow, I didn't understand how some of the scenes contributed, but I found the scenery, cinematography, and editing appealing.

From the Screen Society website:

Combining the neorealism of Vittorio de Sica and the simple, contemplative style of Yasujiro Ozu, this quiet, unsentimental film realistically portrays a country and people in transition. Filled with grace, beauty, bittersweet humor, and strong performances from unprofessional actors, it is an engaging exploration of love, innocence, and the harsh realities of modern life.
Wan and Huen are a teenaged couple who quit their jobs in their small mining town and move to Taipei to find work. Wan becomes a delivery boy while Huen assists a seamstress. The two seem ill at ease with their new surroundings, and in an overcrowded city where people outnumber available jobs, they find that city life is bleak, especially for people who are uneducated and inexperienced. Dust in the Wind is filled with vignettes depicting the struggles as well as the savored moments of everyday life in Taiwan. The film never romanticizes though it is filled with beauty, even of the ugly sort.


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