Berlin International Film Festival 2005
Silver Berlin Bear Outstanding Artistic Achievement, Director
Tsai Ming Liang
Original Title: "Tian bian yi duo yun"
* FIPRESCI Prize Competition, Director Tsai Ming Liang for
its tragicomic reflection of the decline of human relations
and pornography as an obsession of modern culture including
* Alfred Bauer Award (goes to a film which succeeds in "taking
the art of film in a new direction”), Director Tsai
Golden Berlin Bear, Director Tsai Ming Liang
Director: Tsai Ming Liang
Starring: Lee Kang Sheng, Chen Shiang Chyi,
Lu Yi-Ching, Yang Kuei-Mei, Sumomo Yozakura
RunTime: 1 hr 54 mins
Released By: Festive Films & Cathay-keris
Opening Day: 4 August 2005
In an age of severe water shortage, TV programs are teaching
various water-saving methods and encouraging the drinking
of watermelon juice in place of water. However, everyone has
its own solutions when it comes to finding water.
picks up empty bottles and fills them with water stolen from
public toilets while Hsiao-Kang, now a porn actor, climbs
to the rooftop in the middle of the night to bathe with what
little water he can find in the water storage tanks. Survival
is hard but loneliness is even harder to bear. Each of us
is like a cloud in the silent sky - always floating alone
and never touching each other.
day, Shiang-Chyi finds a watermelon and later meets Hsiao-Kang
in the park. She remembers buying a watch from him before.
She has not seen him since then and has no idea what he is
now doing at her building.
fall in love.
a cloud touches another, what shape will they form?
This film sparked controversy over its content and gratuitous
sex scenes, some of which are edited length-wise (pardon the
pun) in Singapore because of its intensity. However, the burning
question is not why these scenes are edited, or why they were
made in the first place. Rather, the question is, what does
this film actually mean?
Tsai Ming Liang is no stranger to unorthodox movie making.
His past works are filled with minimal dialogue, long, wide
angled and lingering shots, which takes time to get used to.
Some might even liken his style to Hong Kong's director Wong
Kar Wai, given the nature and take on this strange tale.
story is somewhat like what "2046" is to "In
The Mood For Love". The Wayward Cloud actually is a sequel
of sorts to events taken place in an earlier Tsai film, "What
Time Is It Over There" (2001), starring the same protagonists
Hsiao Kang (played by Tsai regular Lee Kang Sheng) and Shiang
Chyi (played by actress Chen Shiang Chyi). It's a simple tale
meets girl (again, if you count the prequel), falling in love,
sharing intimate moments, and the feeling of being betrayed
by deceit (well, sort of anyway).
narrative consists mismatched kaleidoscope of starkly different
sub plots meshed into one.
Loneliness is a key theme in the first half of the movie as
we see each protagonist in their individual daily lives, set
in a backdrop of drought stricken Taipei. We are introduced
to a lonely Shiang Chyi trying to put up in these dire circumstances,
given her innovative water rationing and collecting techniques.
Hsiao Kang, on the other hand, was introduced in a matter
of fact manner, as a porn actor, with co-stars ranging from
nubile chicks to plus sized Japanese adult video stars.
are a number of plot devices which seem to be unexplained,
or there for the sake of being there. Some scenes stick out
like how red herrings do in a detective thriller, and in particular,
the musical pieces seem disjointed and do not contribute constructively
to the narrative. While colourful in nature and at times hilarious
(check out the costumes, which range from the ridiculous water
creature, to the sadomasochistic looking spider woman, and
looking ones), with the music coming on too suddenly, it spoilt
the overall look and feel of the movie. Having some of the
cast perform song and dance routines does not make a musical.
the actors put up a commendable job in emoting through the
lack of dialogue, just like what the actors in the recently
screened 3-Iron pulled off. It's always tough to act without
using speech and tone to bring through thoughts and ideas
to the audience, even though in this film, sex somewhat helped
speaking of sex, the last long scene had additional fuel for
thought. This film tried to show
the "behind the scenes" of porn production, with
production technicalities stripping sex from any hint of sensuality
and emotions involved. While the earlier scenes were as graphic,
somehow this particular one struck as treating the female
body as a piece of meat, there to gratify, comatose or not.
It might be difficult to stomach, but somehow the editing
(by the local censors) made it easier to swallow (pardon the
pun again). It's raw in some ways, leading to a rather surprising
like clouds, this film will definitely take on different interpretations
with no fixed form,
depending on the mindset and imagination the audience views
it with. To some, it's art, and to others, smut. But most
will probably agree that a humble watermelon will never be
looked at in the same light again.
for the niche audience who enjoy open debates on the film's
meaning, even after the
by Stefan Shih