That Day, on the Beach
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Love dies slowly, almost imperceptibly, despite all the good intentions. The famous pianist Tan Weiqing returns to her home Taipei after many years to play a concert. She gets an unexpected call from Jiali – a long-estranged friend and the sister of her college sweetheart, Weiqing. In-between the rehearsal and the concert, the women meet at a cafe. Their conversation turns into a multi-layered retrospection, centered around the unidentified body found at a beach by the police.
In his full-length feature debut, Edward Yang masterly uses the potential of the melodrama to tell a story about a slowly decaying marriage. That Day, on the Beach is a study in a girl’s transformation into a woman. It shows the path to self-realisation, and the confrontation with deeply rooted traumas and culturally-determined models of womanhood of Taipei's upper-middle class. The film was compared to Michelangelo Antonioni’s The Adventure, but it shares more with Orson Welles’ Citizen Kane – Yang, too, allows himself to reflect on the matter of free choice. Regardless of the decisions we make, there always comes a day when, sitting alone on a sunny afternoon, we manage to find our inner peace.
Born in 1947 in Shanghai. His father came from a southern province Guangdong, his mother from Hebei in the north of China. Born as the children of impoverished intelligentsia, they both worked as office clerks in the nationalist government structures. Two years after Yang was born, the communist party took over the reins in China, and the family moved to Taipei. Despite his fascination with literature and film, Yang chose to study engineering. After graduating, he moved to the US to continue his education in digital design. He spent seven years working as a coder in Seattle and then decided to return to Taiwan to pursue a career in film. In 1983, after creating his short film Desires, a part of an anthology film In Our Time, the founding oeuvre of the Taiwanese New Wave, Yang directed his almost three-hour-long debut That Day, on the Beach. Over the three decades of his career, Yang made a wide variety of films. His third feature, a postmodern tragicomedy Terrorizers, was a big box office success and a hit among the critics, bringing Yang the 1987 Silver Leopard at the festival in Locarno, and the title of the Best Film at the Golden Horse Film Awards. Yang’s later films – the award-winning, epic reconstruction of Taipei of the 1960s, A Brighter Summer Day, the comedy A Confucian Confusion, and the gangster film Mahjong – turned out to be box office flops. Yang’s last film, the Japanese co-production A One, and a Two, brought him the Best Director award at the 2000 Cannes Film Festival. After the Cannes win, Yang started working on several different projects – the animation The Wind, a website with auteur comic books Miluku.com, and the script for the adaptation of Lust, Caution, but did not finish any of them. Yang died of colon cancer in California in 2007.
1982 W naszym czasie / Guangyin de gushi / In Our Time (segment Oczekiwanie / Zhiwang / Expectation)
1983 Tego dnia na plaży / Haitan de yi tian / That Day, on the Beach
1985 Historia z Tajpej / Qingmei zhuma / Taipei Story
1986 Terroryści / Kongbu fenzi / Terrorizers
1991 Jasny dzień lata / Gulingjie shaonian sharen shijian / A Brighter Summer Day
1994 Konfucjańska konsternacja / Duli shidai / A Confucian Confusion
2000 I raz, i dwa / Yi Yi / A One and a Two