Spaces, Tactics, and Time: City Wandering in Taiwanese Cinema from 1992 to 2006.
Masters thesis, Concordia University.
- Accepted Version
This thesis concerns the theme and form of “wandering” in Taiwanese cinema. It focuses on selected films by three major directors: Tsai Ming-liang, Hou Hsiao-hsien, and Edward Yang. These three directors are not only the most critically acclaimed from Taiwan, their films also share more than a few characteristics. Their narratives often involve wandering, whether it be in content or form. I argue that this wandering is presented as a way of experiencing the world that can lead to greater agency within it. In “Edward Yang’s Yi yi: Everyday Adventure in the Idyllic City”, I use Bakhtin’s chronotope to observe how wandering in the city can transform the everyday into an adventure that leads to greater knowledge and happiness. In “Tsai Ming-liang: Wandering through Dystopia”, I draw on de Certeau’s “pedestrian speech act” to contend that characters in the director’s films approach their dystopian environment from a wandering perspective, which allows them to create new possibilities within the constraining order. In “The Perpetual Present: Mythic Time in Hou Hsiao-hsien’s Millennium Mambo”, I use Barthes’s concept of mythic time to claim that Hou offers a text that is already reread, thereby allowing the viewer to experience a time without before or after. In these films, urban wandering is a process of self-discovery that is necessary to determine one’s place within the surrounding community (familial or affinitive) and in the world at large.
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