Chai Ao, MA student, Graduate Institute of Taiwan Literature, National Taiwan University
Directed by Lin Shuyu, Winds of September (2008) won the forty-fifth annual Taipei Golden Horse Film Festival’s “Best Picture” award. Set in 1990s’ Taiwan, when the nation’s baseball craze was subsiding as a result of thegame-fixingscandals that tarnished the sport, the film focuses on youthful growth and disillusionment, fondly recalling the past even while criticizing the hypocrisy of the adult world.
The plot revolves around Zheng Xiyan (Feng Xiaoyue), a big man on his high-school campus, and his buddy Tang Qijin (Zhang Jieshi). Students of various stripe make up Zheng’s inner circle of seven friends – high achievers, hooligans, and those who fall somewhere between the two extremes – the group a prototype for other campus cliques.
The seven boys hang out together, getting rowdy from time to time, a true band of brothers. But when Zheng Xiyan has an accident and goes into a coma, the leaderless group falls apart. At the time, the baseballbetting scandals are erupting and the youths discover that their baseball idol, a star player,and Zheng Xiyan are both cheats. As it turns out, Zheng forged the signatures on thebaseballs he gaveas presentsto his friends, passing the signings off as star players’ autographs.The film’s characters are forced to grow, not only because they’re approaching adulthood, but also because their world has been rocked by scandal and deception – this youthful disillusionment is the director’s tool for critiquing 1990s’ Taiwanese society.
Sets are uncluttered and colors are muted, the subdued atmosphere echoing characters’ disillusionment. The film’s conclusion is worth pondering – is the cunning and calculating adult world the boys’ future? The director pans society’s ethics, but still holds outhope for the young. On graduation day Tang Qijin takes a train south to Pingdong, where he encounters Liao Minxiong – the boys’ fallen idol – on a baseball field. Liao is pitching and Tang is catching, symbolizing continuity with the past and inspiration for the future – Tang’s adolescence has passed, but his best years are still ahead of him.
Soundtrack, settings, and actual news events take viewers back to 1990s’ Taiwan; the film is both nostalgic and saddening – for Taiwanese baseball fans, the era’s beauty was marred by the game’s betting scandals – a part of Lin Shuyu’s personal experience and the collective memory of the youth of that time.
|Related Literary Themes：||Young Adult|