17 October 2008

Taiwan Perhaps...

Gelan Chang (葛蘭) was born in Shanghai in 1933 and she was an actress and a singer in the 50's and 60's in Hong Kong. She's known for her appearances in musicals where she covered many classicals such as Carmen in The Wild, Wild Rose which is one of her most popular movies. To me, she's completely part of my mental reconstruction of the "modern" Chinese culture from the past: Hong Kong and Taiwan in the 60s, a perfume of old rose and camphor, colourful dresses which my grandfather taylored at this time and a small but peculiar event a couple of years ago, my own "petite madeleine" experience. When I went to visit my father for the first time in Cambodia, my father took me to the places where he spent his childhood and his youth. This trip in the past ended at home, when my father decided to show me mambo steps in front of a large stained mirror... One year later, I was struck by its reminiscence when I saw the hero of Days of being wild do the same. The images of my father and Leslie Cheung just perfectly superimposed and time seemed abolished the moment of a short mambo dance. Since then, I have a weakness for the music inspired by Latin rhythm of the fifties and the sixties, I confess that the first time I have heard "Quizas Quizas" was through the kitsch cover by Nat King Cole "Perhaps Perhaps", and Dean Martin's "That's amore" is a very familiar tune as well...

Likewise, the imaginary Taiwan I partly built from movies is also made up of these oldies: the Hole, directed by Tsai Ming Liang, is one of the first Taiwanese movies I taped and watched restlessly when I was a TVphagous. The movie takes place at the turn of the millenium and depicts a very gloomy Taiwanese city devastated by a strange virus which is responsible for a illness called "the cockroach disease" as people suffering from this disease tend to act like cockroaches! Although the movie is quite dark (in every sense as it is also raining most of the time), it also goes through merrier moments when it depicts the love story between the two main characters who start to sing and dance as if they were in a musical comedy. One of the songs interpreted by the female character is nothing else than one Gelan's song!

Then, to me, 我要你的愛 (Wo yao ni de ai, "I want your love") is also closely related to my fantasized Taipei and, after visiting one of its most picturesque sites, The Taiwan Beer Brewery, I did this small montage on erenlai TV:

Also watch Bendu creation:

(Photos from Air Hostess (Li Men, 1959) and
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