0422

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0422

  1. 1. 行政院國家科學委員會補助專題研究計畫 成果報告 (計畫名稱)跨越藍色大門 計畫類別: 個別型計畫 計畫編號:NSC 95-2411-H-003-047 執行期間: 95 年 8 月 1 日至 96 年 7 月 31 日 計畫主持人:吳佳琪 共同主持人: 計畫參與人員: 陳玟勳、謝雯妤(研究生兼任助理) 成果報告類型(依經費核定清單規定繳交):精簡報告 本成果報告包括以下應繳交之附件: ˇ赴國外出差或研習心得報告一份 □赴大陸地區出差或研習心得報告一份 □出席國際學術會議心得報告及發表之論文各一份 □國際合作研究計畫國外研究報告書一份 處理方式:除產學合作研究計畫、提升產業技術及人才培育研究計畫、列管計畫 及下列情形者外,得立即公開查詢 ˇ涉及專利或其他智慧財產權 執行單位: 台師大英語系 中 華 民 國 96 年 12 月 10 日
  2. 2. Academic Report/結案報告(NSC96-2411-H-003-047) What’s so Queer (or Straight) about Blue Gate Crossing: Stylistic Analysis Foreword/前言 This report presents some results of my first-year and preliminary research on “emerging Taiwan cinema,” an on-going project that began in 2006, has been funded by NSC for 2 academic years, and hopefully will be funded for the next two years and developed into a 4-year project. 目的及研究方法 Because of close affinity b/w film studies and cultural studies, and because of some commonly shared ground of post-structural and cultural theory, the analysis of Chinese language queer films, in Taiwan or U.S., is often reduced to thematic readings and conducted along registers of story interpretation and ideology critique. Issues raised in a politicized reading of a film based upon its story often concern sexual politics, identity politics, nationalism and trans-nationalism: What kind portrayals of queer subjects does a film pose—negative, positive, stigmatized or sanitized? Does a film take part in a hegemonic construction that ostracizes alternative sexual practices? Or it takes part in a discourse of culture/citizenship that deploys such practices as integral to politics inclusion? In other words, how does the depiction of queer subjects resonate with national imaginary, or perhaps transnational flows of culture and capital, etc.? While such a reading of the film’s story might be politically productive and effective in advancing radical sexual politics, a thematic analysis of a queer film by-passing formal analysis (and disregarding international queer/film history) might be reductive and sometimes lead to misreadings. Ang Lee’s The Wedding Banquet or Brokeback Mountain, for example, got so enthusiastically received and widely discussed, yet the critical evaluation of which is often isomorphic with the elucidation of thematic concerns as well as their negotiations with sexual politics. People who favor the film commend their sculpting of positive or sympathetic gay images, whereas people who disfavor the film would attack them for universalizing pretensions, their wreckage of feminist concerns or transplanting of certain hetero-normative assumptions. But the question my project sets out to ask is: if we
  3. 3. take into account the very issue of formal operation (or re-situate the film in the history of international or queer cinema), would the understanding of sexual politics of the film be different? Or if it is the same, would such an understanding take on more subtleties or be more nuanced? The purpose of this report is to demonstrate how theoretical understandings of film should be tied to and founded upon accurate formal analysis and a solid knowledge of international film history. This preliminary part of my project tackles two recent Taiwanese productions that take on the epithet of “queer” or “gay and lesbian film”—Blue Gate Crossing (Yee Chih-yan, 2002) and Formula 17 (Dir. Chen Ying-rong, 2003). Perhaps because of their lack of oppositional aesthetics/textuality qua art cinema, or confrontational queer politics (traumatized, alienated queer subjects,), these two films have been relatively marginalized in the thriving field of queer film criticism. Yet instead of treating them just as “queer-themed films,” this part of my project unpacks these two films in terms of their formal and textual operation, to highlight the ways in which they might be experienced aesthetically (as film per se) before they are understood as “queer”. Here I tentatively remove the discussion of the two films from thematic interpretation and politically symptomatic readings (i.e. the interpretation of the story as it bears relevance to portrayal of queer subjects, queer identity politics, or the dis/articulation of nationality or trans-nationality), but bring to fore the very process of cinematic narration (shots, or sequences) that might be difficult to grasp through merely a consideration of diegesis and sexual politics. I aim at a formal appraisal of Blue Gate Crossing and Formula 17, foremost those constituting the visuality (and aurality) of the films—visual style, compositional principles/staging practices, and temporal design (editing) of the films. The formal assessment of these two films will pave the way, in a follow-up NSC project (NSC95-2411-H-003-018, 2007-2008), for the reconsideration of “gaze” in cinema as formulated by feminist film theorists and Lacanian film theory, exploring the implications revolving around the gay, lesbian, or queer gaze. This report excerpts parts of my research on and analysis of the formal qualities of Blue Gate Crossing (BGC), with the analysis of Formula 17 temporarily eclipsed here for it would entail a whole different set of debate on the issues of technical ineptitude and questions of highbrow/lowbrow taste. From BGC, I discern the perceptual negotiations of the image as seen in three categories: 1) staging practices that could be seen as an inheritance from Taiwan New Cinema; 2) images that not
  4. 4. only reminisce the stylistics of New Cinema but also abound with implications about sexualities; 3) point of view shots hypothetically and tentatively identified as “gaze,” mainly of the female protagonist, Meng Ke-rou. 部分文獻探討、 部分文獻探討、結果及討論 Influence of Taiwan New Cinema Blue Gate Crossing totals only 312 shots over the running time of 89 minutes. The average shot length (ASL) is 15.2 seconds, 67% of shots longer than 6 seconds, 37% of shots with camera movement (including slightly reframing) and 13% of shots with only slight reframing.1 Although the ASL of the film does not quite measure up to the minimalist “long-take” stylistics fashioned by Taiwan New Cinema, Chang Tso-ji, or Tsai Ming-liang, it is relatively a “slow” and “static” film given that the mainstay of domestic target audience is Taiwan teenagers and youths, an audience putatively having short attention span as they have grown up watching rapidly cut Hollywood blockbusters and Japanese animation which employ tightly-controlled/intensified continuity editing.2 Taiwan New Cinema (TNC) as an influence is most evident in Yee Chih-yan’s composing and framing of long shots, lensed at times in the scheme of planimetric framing, and at times in a frame-within-frame or multiple-plane construct. Examples: A. Planimetric Framing Shot 48: pf 1 In the project I made an elaborate document annotating each shot of BGC in terms of their shot length and camera movement (including slight reframing), configuring the percentage of shots with camera movement and the percentage of shots lasting longer than certain durations (6 seconds, 17 seconds, and 1 minute). Such a quantitative approach models upon David Bordwell and, when put in comparison with films the audience are habituated, could give a better idea as to whether a film feels “slow” or “fast,” “static” or “kinetic”. In the document I also specified whether each shot involves point-of-view or utilizes the staging practices that call the attention of “style historically conscious” viewers. 2 According to Bordwell, the ASL of any typical Hollywood film ran between 3 to 6 seconds in 1999 and 2000. Today, most films are cut more rapidly than at any other time in U.S. studio filmmaking. I have yet to configure the tempo of Japanese animation or vide games of various national origin.
  5. 5. Shot 61: pf in telephoto Shot 254 Shot 94: pf in telephoto, with staggered planes suggesting depth, with actors standing in silhouette in the foreground B. Long Shots Combined with Long Takes Quite often the use of long shot in BGC is in tune with its in TNC. That is, rather than drawing upon the Brechtian principle by which long distance dictates alienation/distantiation, the blocking of emotion or the provoking of thoughts, long shots in BGC or TNC, when held long enough, could be utilized to convey a sense of quiet realism and capture strong emotions, or in David Bordwell’s words “a particular
  6. 6. emotion made possible only by distance” (Bordwell 2005, 206). Example: Shot 234 Long shot/long take held for 106.5 sec. Multiple Frames and Queer Desire While testifying to the heritage of Taiwan New Cinema, the compositional strategies in BGC also find parallel with the organization of desire and underscore the queer themes of the film, in ways that compositional principles seem to outline the contours of queer desire. Quite often we see the frame-within-frame construct that typifies the works of Hou Hsiao-hsien and Edward Yang, yet it at the same time takes on the metaphorical association of the closet. C. Multiple Frames Shot 104: a compositional strategy that typifies TNC. Although Meng Ke-rou’s mother carries the visual weight in the shot, the view of her is “sidetracked” by her placement (off-center, background) and the details of the space (the bike, the door, and the balustrades). Meanwhile she is defined by (and confined to) the geometrical lines constituted by the contours of the architecture. This shot epitomizes the kind of quiet realism typifying TNC.
  7. 7. Shot 67: frame-within-frame, actors shot through the doorframe. At the point of the narrative, Yuezhen “came out” to reveal her obsession with Shihao, an act premised upon the legitimacy of heterosexuality and indirectly forcing the “closeting” of Kerou. At the same time, the doorframe seems to screen out the larger political and social dimensions of the diegesis. Shot 110 Shot 101 + 113: composed through other frames (also plainimetric framing)—the window and the flat surface of the pillar. It is not until the end of the film do we find out what Kerou scribbled repeatedly on the pillar: “I am a girl, and I love boys,” a statement that bespeaks the suppression of her homosexuality and her state of being closeted. Queer or Lesbian: Woman as the Looker Centering upon Meng Kerou’s constant struggle with her confused/shifting sexualities, the narrative of BGC gravitates toward her gradual bonding with Zhang Shihao. At
  8. 8. the moment, we hypothetically take point of view shots (POV) as visual correlative of the gaze. The film is curiously replete with shots in which a female (mostly Kerou and to a much lesser degree Yuezhen) poses as the looker and a male (Shihao) constantly connotes “to-be-looked-at-ness,” yet it is not always clear whether Shihao is mobilized as the object of desire or just an object of “affection”. Despite Kerou’s claim that she is in love with a girl/Yuezhen, at the level of textual operation, shots featuring Kerou’s point POV at Shihao far outnumbers her pov shots at Yuezhen. D. Kerou’s POV shots at Shihao abounds throughout the film Shot 15-17, Kerou’s POV precedes… Shot 18, her looking Shot 136: Kerou looks at Shihao, followed by her POV in shot 137 Shot 291 and 292: POV and looking patterned upon shots 15-18
  9. 9. E. shots that clearly characterize Kerou’s gaze as queer/lesbian, which are rare in the film despite the diegetic emphasis that she is in love with Yuezhen Shots 36-37 Shots 252-253 F. Shihao’s POVs at Kerou. They are mostly mobilized as and placed in shot-reverse-shots as he and Kerou exchange looks. Shot 113-118: exchange of looks between Kerou and Shihao Concluding Remarks The purpose of this report is to demonstrate that a purely formal reading could also be fruitful in enacting a queer interpretation of the film, or in how “shot consciousness”
  10. 10. (as advocated and explicated by David Bordwell) could contribute to a “queer” reading of the film. Unpacking Blue Gate Crossing in formal terms better explains our visual (and aural) experiencing of the film, and at the same time arrives at a queer critique of sexual identity as stable and coherent, or as dichotomized between gay and straight. On one hand the film abounds in a girl’s pov shots at a boy, which might conjure up a straight, female spectatorial identification (it is said that Taiwan teenage girls accounts for a large proportion of the domestic audience). Yet Kerou’s pov shots at Shihao are more or less laden with emotional ambivalence, and could not be easily pigeonholed as sexual or straight. Meanwhile, the film carefully steers clear of sexist/scopophilic mechanism (long disputed by feminist film theorists) in which the male poses as the looker and the female as the object of desire, in the sense that Shihao’s pov shots at Kerou are usually carefully placed in the exchange of looks between him and her. In a word, the textual operation of the film to a large extent evidences a “queerness,” debunks the “polarization of male gaze versus female body,” and denotes the (post-structuralist) deconstruction of anticipated categories of gender and sexuality. The final part of this report “Queer or Lesbian: Woman as the Looker” will anticipate a major theoretical strand in a subsequent/current research on emerging Taiwan queer cinema, in which a recent film Spider Lilies (刺青, Zero Chou, 2007) will pose as another significant text in my theoretical probing of “the lesbian gaze”. In emphasizing that theoretical understanding or ideology critique of a film shall rest upon a keen consciousness of its formal qualities, this report tentatively anchors the gaze in the physical movement of point of view shots in BGC, mostly embodied in Kerou’s looking. The equation of gaze with pov shots constitutes the ground on which Laura Mulvey formulated cinematic scopophilia in her seminal and ground-breaking essay “Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema” (Mulvey), this equation, however, will need to be reviewed and re-negotiated by 1) tracing the development of feminist film theory, particularly where it intersects with queer theory and Lacanian psychoanalysis and 2) examining the recent re-reading of Lacan and re-assessment of its application to film theory (Todd McGowan). Both will be the tasks of my current NSC research (2007-08) as a follow-up and expansion of this analysis (2006-07).
  11. 11. 又、本計畫部分研究成果,用於“Queering Chinese Language Cinemas”,將於 2008 年 初投稿 Quarterly Review of Film and Video。 Selected Bibliography(文獻) Bordwell, David. “Hou, or Constraints” Figures Traced in Light: On Cinematic Staging. Berkeley: University California Press, 2005. ____. “Intensified Continuity: Visual Style in Contemporary American Film.” Film Quarterly 55.3 (2002): 16-28. ____. On the History of Film Style. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1997. ____. David Bordwell’s Website on Cinema. <http://www.davidbordwell.net/> Chaudhuri, Shohini. Feminist Film Theorists. London: Routledge, 2006. Martin, Fran. “Taiwan (Trans)National Cinema, or, The Far-Flung Adventures of a Taiwanese Tomboy.” In Cinema Taiwan: Politics, Popularity and State of the Arts. Edited by Darrell W. Davis and Ru-shou Robert Chen. London: Routledge, 2007. ____.〈台灣(跨)國電影,或,一個台灣 T 的勇闖天涯:論《藍色大門》。 〉《電影欣賞》 122(Jan-Mar 2005): 85-90。 ____. Situating Sexualities: Queer Representation in Chinese Fiction, Film and Public Culture. Hong Kong: Hong Kong UP, 2003. ____. “Vive L’Amour. Eloquent Emptiness.” In Chinese Films in Focus: 25 New Takes. Ed. Chris Berry. London: BFI, 2003. 175-182. McGowan, Todd. “Looking for the Gaze: Lacanian Film Theory and Its Vicissitudes.” Cinema Journal 42. no. 3 (Spring 2003): 27-47. Mulvey, Laura. [1975] “Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema.” Visual and Other Pleasures. Basingstoke: Macmillan, 1989. Udden, James. “‘This Time He Moves!’ The Significance Hou Hsiao-hsien’s Radical Break in Good Men, Good Women.” In Cinema Taiwan: Politics, Popularity and State of the Arts. ____. “Hou Hsiao-hsien and the Question of a Chinese Style.” Asian Cinema (Fall/Winter 2002): 54-75. ____. “Hou Hsiao-hsien and the Aesthetics of Historical Experience.” Doctoral dissertation. Univ. of Wisconsin, Madison, 2003. ____. “The Future of a Luminescent Cloud: Recent Developments in a Pan-Asian Style.” Synoptique 10 (2005). <http://www.synoptique.ca/core/en/articles/udden_cloud> Wu, George. “Blue Gate Crossing.” (film review).
  12. 12. http://www.culturevulture.net/Movies/BlueGateCrossing.htm

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