A City of Sadness: Historical Narrative and Modern Understanding of History

Chao Ling


The paper deals with Hou Hsiao-Hsien’s film, A City of Sadness, the milestone of bringing the 228 Incident to public discussion. Based on the point that the inspiration of audience’s emotion is the narrative strategy of Hou to re-present a political taboo, the discussion includes how this film is defined as a hitoriographical one; how the film devoted to screen the forgotten history; what the modern sense of history is embodied by the discussion of the film and the incident; and how public and private domains intertwine and interact. The incident, the telling about the incident and the discussing about the film all contributes to the renewal of our knowledge of modernity and Taiwanese identity. Three major roles of the film, Wen-ching, Hiromi and Wen-heung as well as some sequences of scenes are also discussed in the paper. Through these analyses, the paper intended to deepen the understanding of Hou’s narrative characters; advance the understanding of history; and exemplify the formation of historical discourse. A brief comment on the memorial museum and the monument in Taipei also appears at the end of the paper, so that the retelling of the incident can be observed in a wider manner.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.5539/ass.v4n12p19

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