Can Hong Kongers Relate to "Cape No. 7"?
|Jan 27, 2009|
The following is a passage (translated by me) excerpted from the review:-
“The movie portrays, in a light-hearted and lively manner, the cruelty of the times, the memories of a life time and the emotional conflicts. It tells two love stories in parallel: one happened sixty years ago and is about a Japanese teacher who was forced to leave his sweetheart after the war; and the other is taking place at present and is about the love between a postman/musician and a Japanese girl named 友子. Both love stories are set in a background straddling Taiwan and Japan, and the names of both female protagonists happen to be the same. Such coincidence is designed to make viewers perceive the symbolic link between the two stories - the real message is about the special relationship, one which defies words, between two generations of Taiwanese and Japanese. That is why when Chen Yunlin paid a visit to Taiwan, he was urged to see the movie. That is why even Ma Ying-jiu said Mainlanders should be allowed to see the movie.”
The reviewer then went on to give a little background information about the historical relationship between Taiwan and Japan, and pointed out that Japan had treated Taiwan in a benevolent way during its occupation while it had used cruel tactics on the Mainland. Hence, Taiwan and the Mainland take a wildly different attitude towards Japan.
But what strikes home is this concluding comment:
“As each of Taiwan and Mainland China has a differing view of Japan, and each has found it impossible to impose its own viewpoints and feelings on the other, thus Taiwan politicians were hoping that through the soft influence of a movie, Mainlanders would be able to comprehend this other aspect of Taiwan.”
If the theme of the movie is put in the context of the relationship between Hong Kong and Britain, can one not see a similar kind of emotional entanglement? It is natural that Hong Kongers and Mainlanders view the former colonists in contrasting ways due to historical reasons. But the crucial point is: without having been in Hong Kongers’ shoes, Mainlanders should not impose their own viewpoints and feelings on them. Using shrill and shallow patriotic slogans to shout them down does not help either.
If the word-defying relationship between Taiwan and Japan can be symbolized as a profound amorous link, then the one between Hong Kong and Britain can probably be pictured as an inter-dependent foster-child-and-parent connection. By the time the former was reunited with her biological parent, she was already a full-grown woman with her own independent thinking, beliefs, values and worldview, having been brought up under a Western culture and civilization and exposed to universal values of liberty, equality and justice (which I would describe as fundamental human values). But her newly found biological parent has stubbornly refused to look at things from her standpoint or to try to understand, let alone respect, her feelings and her needs. Instead, he has been trying to force-feed her with anti-West ideologies that are alien to her. Worse, his inability to come up with sound core values that go beyond mere rhetoric makes his arguments even less convincing. On the one hand, he tries to distract her from her intellectual thinking by showering her with material gifts, and on the other he wants to rein her in through having her governess on a puppet-string. He still wants to shackle her with the same chains that are used to restrain his entire clan, although the first attempt in the name of home security proved futile.
Meantime, she feels misunderstood, repressed and helpless in the face of her overpowering biological parent but deep inside she still yearns for the universal values that she has come to know but which are denied her. In spite of differences in race and culture between her foster parent and herself, she feels forever grateful for what the former did to groom her in the past and she misses the days when she was treated with human decency and enjoyed freedom of spirit and fairness. Be that as it may, those feelings do not negate her natural emotional attachment to her own ethnic roots, despite her being called a traitor from time to time by her own race.
Perhaps Hong Kong movie-makers can come up with a film that expresses Hong Kong people’s truest and deepest feelings and desires since the handover, one that can help Mainlanders understand them better? But frankly, I am very doubtful, given Hong Kong’s ingrained money culture, that there are more than just a handful of Hong Kongers who would care about making such a statement.