Seediq Bale Part 1: Flag of the Sun(spoilers)

If you’re in Taiwan, or have some vague knowledge of Taiwan movies, you’ll probably know about the most ambitious project undertaken in their movie history.  If not, then I’ll tell you anyway.  The movie in question is “Seediq Bale”.  It translates to, “A Real Man” in the Seediq langauge, a motif which is repeated throughout the movie.  The Seediqs are a Taiwanese aboriginal tribe, and have actually only recently been recognized as an aboriginal group. The film, which depicts the Wushe incident, presents a Taiwan in the midst of Japanese occupation.  If the title didn’t tip you off, our protagonists are the aborigines of the this tribe (though unfortunately, no actual Seediqs portray any major characters).   The main character is Mona Rudao, a prideful Seediq who resents the Japanese occupation, but grows to be bitter and inactive.  What was once a hunting ground for the Seediqs becomes a mere territory for the Japanese.  Thus, many of the young men are becoming tired and frustrated from their treatment under the Japanese.

However, there is a twist; like a historical movie should, the Japanese are not necessarily the “villains” of the piece.  For all the initial mistreatment that was suffered from the Japanese, there were benefits.  The Seediqs all received education, infrastructure development, and many other improvements.

At this point, I began to give it some thought.  If the movie was meant to paint the Seediqs in a gray light, then it succeeded.  Other than a few arrogant japanese, it is mostly from the Seediq’s perspective about how they’ve been oppressed.   Generally, the Japanese acted only condescending towards the Seediqs, which really throws a curve ball at you; are the Seediqs justified, or did they simply take it too far?  Try as I might, it was hard for me to hate the Japanese, at least within the movie.  Without a doubt, there were many atrocities committed during the Japanese colonization of Taiwan; some which ranged from violent suppression of anti-Japanese groups, to street violence. Considering that I myself am Taiwanese (okay you can make your guesses), it was an interesting perspective;  to be caught between the Japanese who were one of the major influences on Taiwan’s modernization, and the aborigines, people who should probably be considered the true Taiwanese.

Visually speaking, it was a fairly impressive movie.  The setting had a fairly natural feel, with the forest giving off a sense of mystery.  However, some of the CGI was too noticeable.  Perhaps the most blatant offenders were the animals, as well as Mona’s meeting with his father’s ghost.  The animals came off as too fidgety, while the scene with Mona’s father seemed very cliched.  I believe a historical movie should try to stay grounded in reality, not to simply include fantastical elements because they’re common.  The music definitely fits many of the scenes; for the dramatic scenes, instrumental tension can be felt.  For those scenes of reflection, a quieter aboriginal language can be heard in the background.

Overall opinion?  I liked the movie.  But it’s not perfect.  Those who may not enjoy excessive violence may not enjoy it.  There is a sense of pride about Taiwan and you sort of empathize with the Seediqs.  At the same time, the violence of the movie reminds us not to take it at face value.  The Japanese, for all their prejudices and oppression, also had a hand in modernization and development.  There’s no real “right or wrong”.   Instead, we see how these characters, and by extension how some of these historical figures may have been motivated.

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Tapirs Today

Okay, contrary to my previous post on proboscideans, I don’t hate tapirs.  In fact, they’ve become some of my favorite animals and easily one of the most underrated creatures.  Similar to elephants, it has a prehensile snout which provides quite a number of uses.  Currently, there are four living species; the Baird’s tapir, the Mountain tapir, the Brazillian tapir, and of course, the Malayan tapir.   The earliest known tapir ancestors are heptodons, which lacked the iconic snout.  It lived during the Eocene, about 50 million years ago.  Quite a history I might add.  Tapirs are closely related to rhinos and horses as well other members of the order Perssiodactyla.

But of course, those are just facts.  Personally, I find tapirs to be just fascinating to look at.  People may not consider it as charismatic as its cousins, but that just makes it more worthwhile to learn about it.  Malayan tapirs are perhaps the most visually different of the four species due to its dichromatic color scheme.   All tapirs are semi-aquatic in behavior, which makes wonder about the adaptability of various species.  For some reason, we end up have this “perception” that animals that live in a certain environment can only live in that environment.  If a terrestrial animal touches water, it will automatically drown right…

In terms of defense, tapirs go the “boring but practical route”. We usually associate powerful herbivores with tusks, horns, hooves.  Tapirs on the other hand, can just run.  That’s not to say they can’t defend themselves, but why waste the tools used for more constructive purposes other than fighting? And if things get tough…CHOMP.   Plus, they have fairly thick fur on their necks to prevent easy bites from predators.

Luckily there are tapir focused blogs that are worth checking out:  The TPF(Tapir Preservation Fund), and…(searching for more..) Alright alright, they’re out there.

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What is a “fan”?

It doesn’t matter what medium or form of entertainment/amusement/learning you adhere to.  Everyone is probably a fan of something.  But there always seems to be varying grades.  There are fans who buy tons of things related to the series, fans who have a casual interest, and many other categories.  But one of the most frustrating things to see is hatred of certain fans.  Many times, a dominant group will chide another for being part of the casual crowd.  If someone becomes interested in a series like Lord of the Rings or Star Trek, they may be criticized by someone whose been a fan for nearly their entire lives.  I understand that some people are considerably versed in a topic, but we shouldn’t ostracize others who are still willing to learn, even at such a late stage.  I myself only became a fan of the under-appreciated video game Earthbound last year.  Yet I find it rather heartwarming to see such a devoted fan community.

Encourage, but don’t force.  Invite and they shall learn more.

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Thoughts on “Write In Taiwanese”

Ah, the 2010 census (okay that video was a year old).  But I think it’s interesting to hear the various oppositions to the “Taiwanese” ethnicity.  Among the most common arguments is that aborigines aside, the people who call themselves “Taiwanese” are really just Han Chinese immigrants.  Therefore, they shouldn’t be confusing people.  But what is Han Chinese? China’s history is wracked with mythical depictions such as the “perfect” successions of each dynasty, and the Han people being descendants of the Yellow Emperor. At one point, the Qing dynasty considered everyone in their territory to be One could argue that the so-called “Han-Chinese” ethnicity is already extremely mixed biologically speaking, and such designations are subjective.

So what is ethnicity?  Genealogy?  Culture?  Truth to be told, there’s not as much of genetic diversity amongst humans compared to others species.  Judging by physical features and genetics is only one part of categorizations.  Thus, it would be more culture that would distinguish us.  Yet Taiwan still preserves what would be considered authentic “Chinese” culture by many.  But there are other countries that are heavily influenced like China.  Japan, Korea, and Vietnam all borrowed from the Chinese, yet remain very distinct.  Taiwan may have retained some of that culture, but it’s also developing a newer one.

Another thing to take in mind is exposure to culture.  While race is heavily linked with ethnicity, they are not the same.  An American born Chinese will most likely know less about Chinese culture than an European whose lived in China their whole life  Other overseas Chinese may have no problems recognizing themselves as Han Chinese as a designation.  That is fine.   But they’re not necessarily culturally Chinese, and that makes a difference.

Ultimately, it should be the person who should define their identity.

 

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Designated Hero, and “Villain”

Yes, another post about tropes.  This one concerns supposed “heroes” and “villains”.  Many times, movies will assign moral alignments to characters to make us empathize with them more.  Protagonists tend to be heroes, while antagonists tend to be villains.  Though there are also villain Protagonists and hero antagonists too, only one side is going to receive the sympathetic Point-of-view.  However, sometimes the perceived “hero” isn’t as moral as one would think.  And the villain is actually partially justified.  One of the most iconic examples in film is the 1980’s classic “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off”.  Ferris, the charismatic hustler skips school and openly defies authority figures, is liked by everyone.  Whether this is due to his actual deeds of consideration or manipulative behavior isn’t made clear.   But like other characters, we are drawn to do what Ferris is doing.   We believe that he is our hero, that he serves as something of a role model.  Upon becoming

Our manipulative, dastardly, villain

more aware, we start to show disillusionment with these “heroes”.  We realize regardless of his personality, he’s been skipping school for a number of days, and breaking the rules.  So by that logic, Mr. Rooney should be the good guy, right? ……

Not all conflicts are all about “good” and “evil”, or adhering to a certain moral code .    In works of fiction, it is often hard to apply any real world morals; one must consider the circumstances and situations involved.  Also, people can exist with extensive codes and lines that they dare not cross.  While other characters will blatantly disregard other lives for their own benefit.  I found Ferris to be a relatively likable protagonist.  Sure, he’s skipping school, but it’s not like he doesn’t care about his friends.  He’s manipulative, but perhaps not heartless.

Even if you take the more pragmatic approach, Rooney doesn’t come off as a “good guy” either.  As the Dean of high school, he doesn’t show much true concern for Ferris.  He makes it clear that he’s only out to get him to ruin his life.  Maybe this is an example of “Tv tropes will ruin your life” but am I wrong for siding with the Designated Hero?  And does a Designated Hero automatically make the opposition “good”?

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阿甘正传 review/ Forrest Gump

簡體字

电影可以有永远 的娱乐性。 最新的电影不见得比老片好看。 一部像想这样的影片是  “阿甘正传” 或者 “Forrest Gump”。 一个1994 的片子。 已经过了十七年,但是,我还推荐每个人来看。 现在,我觉得这个片满影响人

阿甘正传是讲一位小男孩比他同学笨一点。 也不能用他腿.  他最好的朋友就是Jenny, 一个小女孩。 两个人长大的时候就闹翻了。 Forrest一直都很乖。 可是他朋友慢慢心碎。  我们电影主角让我们完全沉浸在里面。 我们电应别的人物喜欢找借口不要负责任。 阿甘一直不放弃。 他用自己的办法解决困难。 除了人物以外, 故事也满有趣的。 因为电影场景在1960-70’s, 阿甘看到历史影象,像JFK, 被开枪杀死,见尼克松,帮人做有名的发明。 最好笑的是他不知道做的事是那么重要。

人物,故事, 场景, 跟音乐,都满克回忆的。 但是,电影也有坏处。 有一点长,从阿甘小时候到当爸爸。 有的人物的角色不够清楚,来一下下就走了。 方那么多人物应该有比较仔细的背景。 多半来说, 电影好看。  我愿意再看一次。

繁體字

電影可以 有永遠 的娛樂性。最新的電影不見得比老片好看。一部像想這樣的影片是“阿甘正傳” 或者“Forrest Gump”。一個1994 的片子。已經過了十七年,但是,我還推薦每個人來看。現在, 我覺得這個片滿影響人

阿甘正傳是講一位小男孩比他同學笨一點。也不能用他腿. 他最好的朋友就是Jenny, 一個小女孩。兩個人長大的時候就鬧翻 了。 Forrest一直都很乖。可是他朋友慢慢心碎。我們電影主角讓我們完全沉浸在裡面。我們電應別的人物喜歡找藉口不要負責任。阿甘一直不放棄。他用自己的辦法解決困難。除了人物以外, 故事也滿有趣的。因為電影場景在 1960-70’s, 阿甘看到歷史影像,像JFK, 被開槍殺死,見尼克松,幫人做有名的發明。最好笑的 是他不知道做的事是那麼重要。

人物,故事, 場景, 跟音樂,都滿克回憶的。但是,電影也有壞處。有一點長,從阿甘小時候到當爸爸。有的人物的角色不夠清楚,來一下下就走了。方那麼多人物應該有比較仔細的背景。多半來說, 電影好看。我願意再看一次。

 

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Daria Day

A rare moment of triumph

I guess it’s time to review a TV show.   Spun off of the brain-dead classic Beavis and Butthead, Daria follows the female foil of the previous series’ titles characters.  Since the previous series, Daria Morgendorffer has since become a cynical high schooler, who despite her high standards and morals, would prefer to observe her mad world rather than change it.  The one person she considers a friend is her equally cynical yet more well adjusted Jane Lane.  When one sees the characters, there is a fair justification for her jaded outlook.  Though despite the empathy that one may feel with Daria, it is nevertheless a prevalent theme that she judges people too quickly. Caricatures and reasonable figures are littered throughout the series, and Daria judges them similarly simply because of the flaws they may possess. The prime example is probably Daria’s own mother.  While she has her flaws, she is nevertheless one of the most reasonable adults in the series and often helps the protagonist.  Characters occasionally show that they’re more deep than their quirks may make them appear.

Based on personal preference, this show is much more enjoyable than its predecessor, to the point where you could even forget that it was a spin-off (which should be the job of a good spin-off).

It’s generally considered to have a cynical tone, as most characters are fairly selfish.  Reputation and appearance are what matters to most people. This includes Daria as well, as there are instances when she doesn’t want to sink to “their level”, even when it’s not necessarily bad thing.   Stereotypical roles like the jock, cheerleader, sensitive teacher, and authoritative principal are found easily, and it isn’t very hard to simply dislike them for what they are, even if they’re only caricatures.  Yet some stereotypes are deconstructed.  Daria’s sister Quinn is one of the popular kids, but she is forced to conform to the standards of her friends despite clearly having a great deal of intelligence and motivation.   Thus brings up the question; do we follow what is expected, or what is right.

This show is not without its flaws.  Character animation is limited, and is mainly carried through dialogue.  Sometimes, You don’t really know whether to think of it realistically or to treat it as a separate universe.  But it’s all part of the fun.

This is a show that addresses topics that are still relevant today.  I recommend it for those looking for a good contrast to some of the bombastic programming on today.

 

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