Editing as an Act of Intersemiotic Translation in A City of Sadness: From Poetic Language to Cinematic Language

In: International Journal of Taiwan Studies
Vivian Szu-Chin Chih PhD Candidate, Department of Literature, University of California, San Diego, San Diego, CA, USA

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A City of Sadness (1989) is a groundbreaking Taiwan film classic directed by Hou Hsiao-Hsien. This research paper aims to comment on and contribute to academic discussions of the film by investigating the performance of Chinese poetics in Liao Ching-Song’s editing. Using an inverted sequence of the February 28 Incident as an example, this paper explores the film editor’s cultural discourse of Du Fu’s influence on his own Qi-Yun editing method that he employed to edit the sequence. Through dialogues between the ancient and the contemporary, poetics and narratives, subjectivity and objectivity, as well as the theories of Roman Jakobson, Wai-lim Yip, Pier Paolo Pasolini, and David Bordwell, this paper provides a fresh perspective for re-examining the once harshly criticised method of cinematic ellipses in the film, reaffirming the film’s aesthetic function of allowing audiences to re-access a past obliterated from modern Taiwanese history.

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