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New Left Review 11, September-October 2001


The Taiwanese New Wave has been described by Fredric Jameson as offering the finest cycle of any national cinema since the French. Leo Chanjen Chen explores the achievement of Edward Yang, one of its two greatest masters.

LEO CHANJEN CHEN

THE FRUSTRATED ARCHITECT

The Cinema of Edward Yang

Winner of the best director award at Cannes in 2000—not always a favourable distinction—Edward Yang has gained a wide international audience only with his latest film Yi Yi. Outside Taiwan itself, his movies remain largely unavailable even on video. Not even an English-language essay of the fame of Fredric Jameson’s analysis of The Terrorizer, which Yang made fifteen years ago, has moved the philistinism of the distributors. In the West it is easier to see the work of his great contemporary Hou Hsiao-Hsien—paradoxically, since Yang’s cinema, always focused on modern urban milieux, is in many ways closer to the imaginary of Euro-American city life. Presumably part of the reason lies in Yang’s refusal to compromise with an ordinary requirement of success even in art-house circuits. His film language is dense and terse. But his narrative structures have always been of a remarkable ambition and complexity, regularly exceeding standard viewing lengths.

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