Huang Jian, PhD student, Department of Chinese Language and Literature, National Chi Nan University
Writer Yu Guangzhong (Yu Kwang-chung) is the subject of director Chen Huai』en's The Untrammeled Traveler (2011), part of the 「Inspired Island: Eminent Writers from Taiwan」 documentary series. Borrowing its title from Yu's essay of the same name, the film outlines the writer's creative life, introducing Yu to a wider audience while paying homage to the man and his work.
Born in the city of Nanjing in China's Jiangsu province, Yu came to Taiwan in 1950. He has produced over fifty works – modern poetry, essays, treatises, and translations – all of which have broken new ground, his poetry in particular sparking lively academic debates. Yu's Blue Star Poetry Society advocated a merging of tradition and modernity, opposing the Modern Poetry Quarterly's 「horizontal transplantation」 theory. Yu also held debates with Luo Fu of the Epoch Poetry Society; the film recalls the poets』 literary give-and-take, interviewing researchers sympathetic to Yu Guangzhong, as well as fellow members of the Blue Star Poetry Society. Yu's creative ideal – 「refining an magic elixir in the forge of Chinese characters」 – and his emphasis on 「resilience, density, and material」 in his writing rest hopes on a 「pure Chinese language,」 and a joining of modernism to 「Chinese-ness.」
The director has no intentions of becoming embroiled in the literary world's complexities, preferring to focus on Yu's life, work and travels, interspersing scenes of Yu and his wife in China with those of their travels in Taiwan, revealing the poet's emotional attachment to both places. Footage of Yu interacting with his wife, fondly recalling relatives, teaching at a university, and reading his work in an elementary school classroom all highlight his image as an genial intellectual and educator.
When the film captures Yu skimming stones, and when a bystander cries out in alarm, 「Professor Yu is riding a lion again!」 viewers get a glimpse the poet's pure, childlike innocence. The film also includes footage of Yu on the move, now on a boat on a river, now carrying a satchel and walking on wooden trestle. The director juxtaposes images of the young Yu with those of his older self – when the white-haired Yu encounters a computer-generated younger self at the seashore he waves and calls out, open and inviting. Ultimately, this life is an untrammeled journey in pursuit of freedom. In the final scene Yu Guangzhong sings Song dynasty poet Su Shi's (Su Dongpo) 「Ode to Red Cliff」 as the boat continues to move forward. Once possessed of lofty ambition, now free and unaffected, calm and at ease – this is Yu Guangzhong.
Documentary Film The Inspired Island: The Untrammeled Traveler Trailer
(Source: Fisfisa Media Co., Ltd.)
|Related Literary Themes：||Modernist Literature|