Sunday, June 03, 2007

Shuang Cho (The Twin Bracelets)

Directed by Taiwanese Yu Shan Huang this Shaw Brothers studios movie tells the story of two best friends who bow to become sisters no matter what and exchange bracelets to show a bond that neither time nor custom can break. But when one woman moves on with her life, the other doesn’t and it sets the stage for tragedy.

Then my feeling is that this movie is more about the pull of tradition against modernization than about relationships. Obviously they use the relationship between the two girls to show the dynamics. One girl settles down to continue tradition, while the other tries to break tradition and does not succeed.

Still, I am torn about the story, as I recognize the lesbian overtones, but I also see a traditional girl friendship, common in China, where girls often form lifelong friendships which may be closer than spouses and think that these girls are not “unusual” in this society, is more that their relationship is very close compared to western individualism. In short, for western eyes the story between these girls is open to any interpretation viewers’ wish to see, while for eastern eyes the story probably tells what they are used to live.

Anyway, what I found most interesting about this movie is the documentary alike picture of the daily life in a ‘80s China seacoast ethnic minority fishing village. One scene that is stuck in my mind is when the Chinese tourist says, “I can’t believe this still happens today”; as to many of us western or eastern people, these traditions should cease to exist in many cultures around world. Then, this film shows that is never easy to change traditions.

Being the curious self I am, I went to find more information about this ethnic minority culture and to my surprise I found that is very hard to find accurate information about the movie in general (starting with the name of the director, as she also has the Wong Yuk-Shan name or if this is a Taiwan or Hong Kong movie... the official owner of the Shaw Bros movies opted for leaving the country blank) and almost impossible to find info about the culture it portraits that could be Hui, Han, Shui or almost any of the 56 ethnic minority nations in China. So, if someone knows the name of the Chinese ethnic minority portrayed in this film, please let me know.

Thanks to the research I did for this film I found an article about Chinese Women in cinema; the articles’ title is not attractive “Better Beauty Through Technology – Chinese Transnational Feminism and the Cinema of Suffering” but the article is well written and documented -even if I do not agree with some statements-. Maybe some of you would like to read it here.

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