A tribute to Ozu Yasuhiro – Interview with Wayne Wang on “A Thousand Years of Good Prayers”

A tribute to Ozu Yasuhiro - Interview with Wayne Wang on A Thousand Years of Good Prayers

A tribute to Ozu Yasuhiro – Interview with Wayne Wang on “A Thousand Years of Good Prayers”

  Wayne Wang is one of the most important representatives of American independent cinema. In addition to major Hollywood films such as The Joy Luck Club (1993), he turned and small independent films such as Smoke (1995) and Blue in the Face (1995). His first feature, he turned 1975th Wayne Wang was born in Hong Kong, which he left in the early 1980s, U.S. gen. In his new film A Thousand Years of Good he Zikadenbeschäftigt with Chinese immigrants in America. Wayne Wang is a very likeable person who laughs a lot and during the interview was in high spirits.

Mr Wang, your film is based on a short story by Yiyun Li What you have is fascinating about this story?

In recent years I have mostly turned-Hollywood films. This time I wanted to go back to my roots and do something about the Chinese in America. There are many Chinese immigrants. A good friend told me about the short story A Thousand Years of Good Prayers by Yiyun Li. I have read it and was very intrigued because, without directly being political, all the secrets and lies China’s treatment of the last thirty, forty years on a very personal level. I was also irritated at the history of the issue of language and language has always fascinated me.

You speak for himself, both Chinese and English. Which language do you prefer?

I was already brought up bilingually. We speak Chinese at home and at school I had to learn English. The Chinese language is very formal, especially Mandarin. In addition, there are many rules that must be borne in mind. How to talk to someone depends, of who he is, for example, I can with my father is difficult to say “no”. Because even when I say “no” mean, I would say something like “yes”, otherwise the impolite. English, however, is a very direct language. It is very expressive and I find it easier to express myself in English. My wife and I speak Mandarin together. Cantonese is a language of peasants, but also very modern, because it has been mainly in Hong Kong. But if we fight, then I switch to English because I will argue a lot better and can express my feelings.

Mr. Shi’s daughter, Yilan says in the film that she has found her freedom through the English language. Relates directly to English or American, or generally to other language?

In my film refers definitely in English and America. About other languages like German or French, I know too little. English is a very liberating, expressive language. And that is also precisely this kind of freedom. But what I find interesting in Yilan is that it has found a sense of freedom in the new language and culture, yet it is still a prisoner. She is a married man who has a daughter, in love. So that it repeats the story about her father. This is very tragic, because although you are suddenly free, they make mistakes and still lives as before. There remains the question of what freedom really means.

To express oneself freely …

Of course, to express his feelings, that’s true. At the end of the movie they can do that to her father to tell him her feelings that she has suppressed all these years, because her father never talks about his affair and why he has not worked as a rocket scientist. But one always needs to define more freedom for themselves.

Have you also experienced this?

Yes, so I’ve also done my experiences. When I was in America at the beginning of the school, I was very quiet and passive. I decided to become like the Americans and I really did. I was very aggressive and direct with what I said. Now that I’m getting older, I realize that I have with this aggression violates the feelings of my fellow man. It is also important to understand these feelings and to find the right balance in the communication. I feel both Chinese and American, and I try to wrest the two cultures and languages, something. Both have their advantages and disadvantages.

Identify themselves with the figure of Yilan?

In many ways I identify myself with her, that she comes from a traditional Chinese family, has gone to America and a new language, freedom and learned about culture. But as I said, it is also a prisoner. I hope that it’s different with me and my freedom and the way I want to live, have found. That’s the big difference between her and me. The most painful moment in the movie for me is when she says to her Russian friend, he should bring his family to America because his daughter needed him too. She thinks of herself She just lies in this dilemma. This is interesting, but it is also very tragic.

Do you believe that an open dialog with her father is another way to it to free itself?

That’s a start anyway. I also believe that they will leave their Russian friends. When they end the film with her father on a park bench sits facing him, which is a start to begin the communication between them. There is hope, at least a tinge of hope.

What is their opinion, the main message of the movie?

I can focus myself in my films is difficult on one thing. The films that I have not succeeded so well, usually have a clear intention. But e.g. Smoke or not this film. I am always on the lookout for genuine humanity between my characters, honest communication, although sometimes I can not say exactly what does that really mean. I can also hard to describe. In my films, as well as in real life, I am interested in simple interpersonal connections.

They seem to put a special emphasis on family relations …

The reason is because my own family is not very happy. Ironically, there are many problems between my parents and me. The communication between my father and I worked even worse than that between Mr. Shi and Yilan. Unfortunately, I could not change how the two at the end of the film, because my father has come very suddenly in a car accident. I wanted to talk to him about so many things, but that was no longer possible. Perhaps the film is an attempt to talk about it.

Is played by the specific Chinese politics and history play a role or is this a general problem?

I think that playing the peculiarities of the particular culture and history of the country a role. It’s also a universal theme. This goes hand in hand with each other. What Mr. Shi has been through during the Cultural Revolution and then later his daughter, that you can not just interview clients so without. The other hand what is going on between the two is also generally possible without the specific cultural background. When we showed the film in Spain, has everyone can identify with the story.

The relationship between parents and children are very complex. Can you say something.

Since I have no children, I do not even know what that means. But in my job as a director I am very attentive and watch other parents and their children. Yasuhiro Ozu, whom I greatly admire – my film will also be a tribute to him – knew his father is not very good. He lived with his mother and had no big family, but he has turned thirty, forty films and over again on the same subject, the family.

Mr. Shi and the Iranian speak different languages, yet they communicate with each other.

Now I’m married very long, but before that I had some difficult relationships. There were always problems that had to do with language, semantics or misunderstandings. I firmly believe that the language in relationships should be easier. I believe in the emotional music in the language, which continues as the meaning of words. Words can be very differently defined and then it gets complicated. Relationship should be more emotional and direct. Words are important, but you should not play with them. That is certainly my philosophy. I did not let the scenes with Mr. Shi and the Iranian and subbing, because you do not understand the precise meaning must be, will feel this but.

You come from Hong Kong, a very dynamic film industry, turning their films in the U.S.. Keep track of what their counterparts do in Hong Kong or China?

I watch. I still have many friends in Hong Kong, working in the film industry. Also what is done in China, I follow, although I have a few friends there. I attend many festivals in the region. Korean movies I find particularly interesting, which I try to see them all. But I am different from my friends in Hong Kong and China. They live there. Although I know their culture, but live in the U.S.. And has been for thirty years. I do not make films like Johnnie To, or how the Korean directors. I focus mainly on the Chinese in America.

If you want to continue making films about Chinese immigrants in America?

No, I do not want to be pigeonholed. This is also the reason why I then turned Smoke. I would like to make another film that is not Chinese, perhaps a sequel to Smoke or something like that. I love the character of Harvey Keitel.

(Interview conducted by Katrin Knauth)

Title: A tribute to Ozu Yasuhiro – Interview with Wayne Wang on “A Thousand Years of Good Prayers”

Related posts