Shen Manling, PhD candidate, Department of Chinese Literature, National Chung Hsing University
Directed by Li Gang and Xiao Lixiu, Dream Flight was adapted from the true story of jet-pilot Li Zhengliang and his visually impaired wife, Yang Yahui. In 2011 Li was in charge of Indigenous Defense Fighter (IDF) takeoffs and landings on the Matou Highway Strip in the Matou District of Tainan City (Li currently serves as a military instructor at National Defense University). A moving love story, Dream Flight also focuses on the selection, education, and training of Republic of China Air Force fighter pilots. Moreover, elements of Antoine Marie Jean-Baptiste Roger de Saint- Saint-Exupéry’s (1900-1944) Le Petit Prince (“The Little Prince”) are interwoven throughout the film. Another thread deals with R.O.C. Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Wang Tongyi, a pilot who sacrificed his life to save those of others while training on a Dassault Mirage 2000 jet fighter at an air-force base in France.
Thanks to the cooperation of the R.O.C. Department of Defense, Dream Flight was filmed at the R.O.C. Air Force Officer Training School in Kaohsiung’s Gangshan District, and R.O.C air-force bases in Tainan and Taichung City’s Shalu District. The 499, 455, and 443 air-force wings, the Officer Training School, and the Air Force Flight School all assisted in the making of the film, and additional scenes were shot at the Air Force Martyred Officers’ Memorial Tower in New Taipei City’s Xindian District as well. Set mainly in Taichung City, the film doesn’t specifically highlight the area’s natural beauty. Nevertheless, Dream Flight manages capture a side of the city’s landscape different from that of stereotypical imagery. The Taichung City government, which aided director Li Gang in making Attabu (2013), again provided assistance. In addition to shooting scenes at Qingquangang Air Force Base in the Shalu District, filming was also done in neighborhoods around the base, and on the campus of Providence University.
Although Dream Flight is about the military, the Department of Defense had no hand in writing the script, thus the story is different from traditional military-backed movies. The film tells how Li Zhengliang achieved his dream of becoming a pilot, portraying the harsh training regimen and his growing love for Yang Yahui, as well as the risks and danger fighter pilots face in carrying out their duties. The film delves into Li’s youth as well, touching on his relations with parents, teachers, and friends, highlighting the young man’s hope and determination. Furthermore, the storyline is augmented with vignettes from Le Petit Prince, ingeniously linking characters’ emotional connections and flights of imagination. This element of fantasy softens the film’s military content, lending jet planes and military settings an aura of romance. Nevertheless, special effects create thrilling flying sequences, depicting the hazards and anxieties faced by pilots and their families. Although Dream Flight differs from Taiwanese military films of the 1980s and 90s, in terms of character portrayal and song selection, the film carries on those earlier traditions. Li Zhengliang’s extraordinary flying skills and his relationship with his wife were also featured in a 2011 collaboration between the R.O.C. Department of Defense and National Geographic Channel documentary, Inside Story: Taking Off and Landing on Taiwan’s Freeways.
|Related Literary Themes：||Landscape in Literature|