BANYAN  Research Express@NCKU
Volume 2 Issue 1 - November 2, 2007
Zih Jheng
Disclosure: Dark Side of Human Nature in the Historic Twilight Zone — A comment on the lustful world in Lust¦Caution by Ang Lee
Article Digest
Shun-Fen Tzeng
A Possible Therapeutic Strategy for CNS Repair: Reduction of iNOS Production in Activated Glia by Interference of PGE2/EP2 Action
Jar-Ferr Yang
High Quality and Fast H.264/AVC Video Encoder:Enhanced Intra 4x4 Mode Decision for H.264/AVC coders
Chih-Lung Lin
A Novel LTPS-TFT Pixel Circuit Compensating for TFT Threshold-Voltage Shift and OLED Degradation for AMOLED
Gi-Zen Liu
A taxonomy of Internet-based technologies integrated in language curricula
Article Digest
Ching Hung Lam
On the Uniqueness of the Moonshine Vertex Operator Algebra
Quey-Jen Yeh
Threats and Countermeasures for Information System Security: A Cross-Industry Study
Chuan-Hung Chen
η and η' productions in semileptonic B decays
Editorial Group
Disclosure: Dark Side of Human Nature in the Historic Twilight Zone — A comment on the lustful world in Lust¦Caution by Ang Lee
Zih Jheng

Ang Lee(李安)has been known as the Master of Subversion as Hui-Ming Yin(殷惠敏)put it. The recently released Lust¦Caution directed by Lee has sparked a range of interpretations everywhere. Lee has thus become the true contemporary Master of Subversion who has gained mastery in the making of both western and eastern movies.

Before the movie was released, the press and the media had almost unanimously focused on the three scenes of the titillating intercourse showing the actress’s boobs or the actor’s balls. They even bombarded Lee with questions like, “Are the actor and actress for real in the movie?”

Another question was, “Why was the pressure almost unbearable while directing the scene of intercourse? Why you, the actors and the actresses would describe the shooting of the movie as a journey through hell? Then Lee only replied with slight annoyance, “Do you have any profound questions?”

What are the intriguing yet profound questions about Lust¦Caution that Lee has in mind? Is it like the heavy confession made by the minister of the Government Information Office after the premiere? Or is it “very touching” as Ying-Jeou Ma(馬英九)put it with tears? Stumbling over words, he continued, “we were also very loyal and had made many sacrifices back then…” something like that. Moreover, Ying-Tai Long(龍應台), who was the commissioner of the Department of Cultural Affairs during Mayor Ma’s term in office, also felt pity and wrote, “in a time like that of Lust¦Caution, should we not leave some room for the human interpretation of loyalty and betrayal? No matter if it is Mr. Yi(易) or Mr. Ding(丁), or if it is Eileen Chang(張愛玲)or Lan-Cheng Hu(胡蘭成)?” Then, that comment resulted in an article by historian Young-Tsu Wong(汪榮祖)entitled “Responding to Ying-Tai Long’s Profile of Lust¦Caution: the Death of Mo-Chun Ding(丁默村)”. It was written from the perspective of restoring the truths of that time, disclosing that “Ding was an old special agent of Kuomintang and was the director of the Central Investigation and Statistics Bureau as Li Dai(戴笠). Since Jing-Wei Wang(汪精衛)and his peers fled from Chongqing, Ding was commanded to go to Hong Kong to persuade him to change his mind, but he instead went to Shanghai and joined the enemy with Fo-Hai Zhou(周佛海)… Many people from the press and the business world became innocent sacrifices between 1939 and 1940 when Wang was going to Nanjing to establish a government. During this time there were also many vivid and bloody conflicts occurring between the special agents of both the sides.

Maybe what Wong meant was that Long was a soft-hearted cultural critic who did not fully comprehend the complexity of that time, and could not get close enough to that historic scene which was chaotic, bitter and cold. Thus, Wong could not help but sigh, “most of them were jackals from the same lair, inhuman and blood-crazed. Regardless of loyalty or betrayal, even from the perspective of human nature, the execution of Ding was just.”
If making a movie and acting are an art of creating, watching it is no doubt an art of inner re-creation. Once a movie is made, the right to interpret it is open to every watcher when it faces the global audience. It should withstand harsh criticism and deserve and take all sorts of interpretation, misunderstanding, and relentless probing, even merciless disclosure, before and behind the scenes, on and off the screens.

In fact, Lust¦Caution by Lee was adopted from the first story in Eileen Chang’s selection of short stories: Wangranji(惘然記). Lust¦Caution is also based on something else. Some say it is based on the news events where female special agents seduced and murdered heads of the special agents under Wang’s regime between 1930 and 1940; some say the romance between Eileen Chang and Lan-Cheng Hu, who was the deputy director of the Department of Promotion under Wang’s regime, is also an ingredient of the story.

In the preface of her Wangranji, which was first released in Taiwan in 1980, Eileen Chang wrote, “the three stories in Lust¦Caution were written in the 1950s. These stories used to make me tingle, so I would write and rewrite them over and over again for so many years. When I recall the excitement and surprise of first obtaining the materials for the story, and the process of rewriting it, the passing of the 30 years seems unnoticed. Love should not be measured by its value. That is why a poet wrote, “This love could have been great memories; alas, we were both at a loss.” This book was thus entitled Wangranji. (meaning the Journal of Confusion)

Ang Lee said, “Lust¦Caution is the finest gem of short stories and is my favorite. It’s also the best written. She didn’t even have to use the flamboyance and flair of her language. I personally think it’s her perfect work.”

Lee added, “If Lust¦Caution has a central ideal, the perfect place to play the movie should be Taiwan.” Why Taiwan? Why is it not Shanghai or Hong Kong? Why did he choke on his words a few times at the premiere in Taipei and say agitatedly, “I have poured out my heart. Why don’t you try doing likewise?” Of course, something unspoken is beyond that remark, but it is left for all of us to decipher.

The sources of the movie are from the last generation and Lee used his imagery and crafted exquisitely a whirling world with his heart. If Lust¦Caution is Ang Lee’s favorite and the finest gem of Eileen Chang’s works, is it true that this movie is also the finest gem of all the contemporary movies? Only time can tell. Of course, every great work of art needs to have profound connotations and can be deciphered and interpreted repeatedly. We hope that someday Lee will be outspoken in giving us a personal commentary on his works: How he borrowed the plagued China of the past century as a background to reveal the time when Chinese people killed each other, Kuomintang and the Communists fought over power and sovereignty, battles raged and people suffered; why it is hard for the public to remove the shadows that has haunted over the collective memories of at least three generations on both sides of the Taiwan Strait; how he found the access to the struggling yet existing dark side of human nature in the twilight zone of its tragic history?!