Taiwan's blockbuster movie stirs confusion and anger among mainland viewers

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 04 December, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 04 December, 2008, 12:00am

Cape No7, Taiwan's most successful film in years, has become a source of confusion and controversy on the mainland, helping spread the word about a movie that may never have an official mainland release.

Fake DVDs and an online version of the film are already widely available in many urban areas, including Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Shenzhen.

The romantic film, about young people in northern Taiwan and in Japan, began to generate interest among mainland netizens after they heard that it broke box-office records for a Taiwanese movie and was praised by Taiwanese audiences as being a great hope for Chinese films.

But unlike their Taiwanese counterparts, mainland viewers have not heaped universal praise on the production.

Many young mainlanders said they enjoyed the movie's romance and music, but others said they were confused by elements alluding to Taiwanese independence and admiration of Japan.

One of the film's main scenes involves a Japanese man returning to his country at the end of the second world war. On the boat trip, he writes seven letters to a Chinese woman he left behind in southern Taiwan, and locals turn out at the docks to say reluctant goodbyes to the Japanese soldiers.

'The movie describes the relationship between Taiwanese people and Japanese as peaceful and beautiful during Japan's colonisation of Taiwan. I did not feel happy seeing the Taiwanese people miss and love the Japanese and its subculture,' said Gong Yi, a Shanghai information-technology engineer who is in her mid-30s.

'I have been upset and angry knowing that many politicians and activists from southern Taiwan keep launching independence campaigns to eliminate the influence of Chinese culture.

'I'm so confused. Why do Taiwanese people hate their compatriots - mainlanders - in this way? Why do they try to get away from being Chinese, and at the same time love colonial culture so much as shown in the movie?'

Other netizens blamed the film's success on the island on a society-wide sense of pessimism and helplessness.

'Cape No7 might be a good movie for Taiwanese people. It talks about how a failed Taiwanese rock musician, who returns to his small coastal hometown, lets go of his sadness and rebuilds his confidence by loving a Japanese girl and setting up a band,' a Shenzhen-based netizen said. 'Just because it won the Taiwanese people's hearts and broke Taiwan's box-office record, it doesn't make it one of history's great movies.'