January 12, 2009

「海角七号」の野ばら(野玫瑰): Cape No.7 & Heidenroslein

Watched the Taiwanese movie Cape No.7 (海角七號).

Like a starlight from billions light years away, seven letters written by a Japanese teacher 60 years ago arrive at Cape No.7, the recipient's old address, in the southernmost town of Hengchun, bringing unity between young interracial couple who happens to open the package.

My friend from Taiwan lent me the DVD, asking if its English subtitles are well matched to Japanese narratives. In fact, they appear to be half-baked rush job, though Japanese original narratives are excellently done. But the director, Wei Te-Sheng, who made a huge debts for making this film, casting professional musicians with no acting experience, reportedly paid only US$500 for subtitles, so I wouldn't blaim it.

The low budget film, however, was spread by a word-of-mouth among locals, and "those who already saw it on pirated copy went to the theater to help the director pay back his debts," told my friend. Thanks to the strong support, it's grossed over US$12 million and become the second highest-grossing film in Taiwanese history following Titanic.

The charm of this heart-warming comedy is in its cinematography, music, dialects, a sense of humor vibrant in taiwanese society and rich mix of multiculturalism reflected in the character settings; i.e. Hakka (Malasun), Hokken/Taiwanese, PaiWan tribe aboriginals (Rauma), Japanese (Tomoko).  I kind of liked every character, especially the town council representative (he somehow reminds me of Yosui Inoue. I don't know why.) and Uncle Mao.  Modern Tomoko is way too aggressive, but even if it has some negativity against Japan, I guess it's worth being translated into Japanese.

Goethe's Heidenröslein

In finale, they sing Schubert's "Heidenröslein" - The Little Rose on the Heath (YouTube). The Ausrian song based on lyrics by Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe is the tune Japanese kids learn at school, and it's amazing that Taiwanese schools still teach it.

While staying in Strassburg, Goethe fell in love with Friederike Brion in Sesenheim about 20 miles north of Strassburg. The patrician's son and a village pastor's daughter were not meant be, and Goethe left her in August 1771 after 10 months of relationship. The Little Rose in this lyrics is, therefore, Friederike.
What, at least, is true is that at different periods of his life he produced numbers of lyrics which the world has recognised as among the most perfect things of their kind. And among these perfect things are the few songs and other pieces inspired by Friederike Brion. - Source

"Sin of Our Time"

What got my eyes in the Japanese letter is this part;
"We who have acted like an arrogant aristocrats were put in a pillory next moment. But I'm just a poor teacher. How can I carry a sin of my nation?  Fate of the era is sin of our time." (my translation)
Wei told Japanese interviewee that, with this message (and the entire film) he wanted to depict something like family, friendship and love that would outlive many political and social changes.  I totally agree with his idea, but I should say it's unlikely a Japaneses teacher of that era would write that on his own.

My husband's grandfather, for example, was a teacher who married to his ex-student five years after her graduation.  When the war was over, most of the lines on the textbooks were erased with black ink and what he had been teaching for years turned out to be wrong.  Having lost his confidence, he resigned as a school principle and became a farmer. "Making a living being a farmer was much harder than he thought," my father-in-law once told me.  His life would have been much easier if he could view it that way and unload the sin.







ミュージックもいい。日本人としては端々のシーンと最後に流れる「野ばら」(Heidenröslein/The Little Rose on the Heath/野玫瑰:YouTube)がとても気になるが、このゲーテ作詞・シューベルト作曲のオーストリア唱歌は日本統治時代の名残りで今でも台湾の学校で歌い継がれているものらしい。







海角七號 - Official web, Wikipedia, English Review1, 2
台湾映画界に救世主 日台の恋描く「海角7号」ヒット ロケ地巡りにも人の波 - 西日本新聞
国民的映画確かに面白い!魏監督インタビュー by 平野久美子


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