Publisher：Unitas Publishing Co.
A young Japanese-American film scholar Kenji arrives in Taiwan in the year of 2007, trying to investigate the Taiwanese -Japanese filmmakers’ collaborations during the 1960s-1970s. Japanese movies were banned back then by the Taiwanese government and many local movie distributors have tried to dodge the policy by collaborating with Japanese film makers in order to disguise the imports as native productions. Against such particular historical backdrop, Kenji’s research becomes more complicated than expected. Moreover, what propels the young scholar’s research is the mystery of his grandfather whom he’s never met. His grandfather, once a film director, has lost touch after coming to Taiwan shooting a movie in 1974. The making of this said film takes place in a small town once known as the immigrant village during the Japanese colonization of Taiwan; for unknown reasons the film has never been finished.
As a Japanese immigrants’ descendant in the US, Matsuo Kenji has no clue to his grandfather’s tragic past as the impoverished “Taiwan-born Japanese” who was despised by both Taiwanese and Japanese, and neither to his grandfather’s desperate devotion to the young master whom Matsuo used to serve sexually in a wealthy Taiwanese household 60 some years ago. Matsuo the director has long since dreamed to transform himself from the second-rated Japanese citizen to a true Taiwanese. Movie making seems to promise his dream come true when he returns to his birth place to shoot the film, but the efforts turn out futile and cruelly ironic in the end.
As the investigation goes on, the grandson discovers the entangled affairs between his grandfather, the director Matsuo, and a teenage Taiwanese boy Lao, whom Matsuo has picked from the audition for his ambitious film. The forbidden sex between the two, along with the bumpy filming process, as Kenji would find out later, are no less than a curse of downfall for his grandfather and the young boy. Parallel to Matsuo’s story is the tragedy of Lao, the son of a Chinese mainlander veteran resettling in Taiwan after 1949. He has a difficult relationship with his single father, especially after Lao disobeys his father to pursue his dream of acting. The estranged father-son relationship gets worse after Lao learns that his friend Orchard, the ill-treated adopted daughter of a whorehouse owner, is pregnant with the old man’s child. Lao follows Matsuo to Taipei, ends up prostituting after Matsuo exploits him and later abandons him. Lao is infected by AIDS and commits suicide after his failed revenge on Matsuo.
In afterlife, Lao meets another young ghost Toshiro, a native Taiwanese from the days of Japanese colonization, who served in the Japanese army and died during the WWII. Lao’s friendship with Toshiro evokes the phantom of Taiwan’s past, revealing the bewildering aspects of their identities. By confessing his wrongdoings to Toshiro, Lao forgives not only his father and Matsuo but also himself. The only copy of the unfinished film finally is found, but a new generation of politicians, both Taiwanese and Japanese, see the film as an opportunity they can take advantage of for their own political agendas…..
Four men’s lives accidentally intersect because of an unfinished film. Matsuo, Lao, Toshiro, and Kenji, in a one way or another, from different times and places, all look homeward and try to find out who they really are, only to find themselves bewitched by each other’s hidden past and trapped in the labyrinth of history.
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