Ma Yihang, PhD candidate, Graduate Institute of Taiwan Literature, National Taiwan University
Somewhere I Have Never Travelled (2009) is director Fu Tianyu’s first feature-length film. By looking at young peoples’ yearnings for “faraway places” and the perplexity and discouragement brought about by “being different,” the film depicts change and growth in the lives of its youthful protagonists. A-Xian (Lin Bohong) and A-Gui (You Yin; Li Yunyun plays A-Gui as a child) are cousins who grow up in a southern Taiwan port town. The young A-Xian likes to read, exploring the world’s infinite possibilities through travel guides. A-Gui, who is still in elementary school, is always hanging around her older cousin, for only when she is with him does she feel at ease. In the first half of the film, the cousins are in A-Xian’s room, studying his travel books, learning how to voice greetings in a variety of languages. As they imagine “faraway places” and “foreign countries,” they touch, lean against each other, and embrace, the temperature gradually rising from warm to hot, hinting at sexual awakening and exploration. The scene deftly captures the subtle transformation from easiness to awkwardness in the cousin’s relationship, setting out the film’s main themes: finding and losing love, and the self’s relation to the world.
“Being different” is at the heart of the film – A-Gui is color blind, and A-Xian is gay, their differences linked and reflected in their yearnings for foreign lands. Because of her disability, A-Gui often looked on as “handicapped,” “disabled,” and “different” from others. According to legend, there exists a small Pacific island whose inhabitants are all color blind. A-Gui longs to go there, a place where she will no longer feel different. Conversely, A-Xian is comfortable with his sexual identity, boldly pursuing true love, dreaming of happiness on a faraway shore. But his two short-lived love affairs with “persons from afar” show how reality jars dreams and emotions, and the possibility or impossibility of reaching distant places.
In the film, “faraway places” are not only actual geographic locations, but also metaphors for youthful imaginings of love, consolation for the pain of being different. Nevertheless, “faraway places” – a longing for space, and “growth” – the changes and hurts that time brings, often reveal life’s bitterness, as well as visible and invisible boundaries. But Fu Tianyu’s Somewhere I Have Never Travelled isn’t despairing. When A-Gui stands in for the absent A-Xian, waving goodbye to her cousin’ departing lover, her understanding and empathy are realizations nurtured by time: Only by knowing how to live with difference, and how to bid farewell to faraway places, can one realize that the beauty of those places perhaps exists elsewhere as well.
|Related Literary Themes：||Young Adult|