Zheng Binghong, Film Critic
Xiao Lixiu wrote, directed, and edited Lamb (2003), his film debut. At the beginning of the twenty-first century Taiwanese cinema was at a nadir – if a film netted as little as a million New Taiwan Dollars (approximately U.S.$30,000) it was considered a success. Initially regarded as unpromising, Lamb brought rays of light to Taiwan’s then moribund film industry. The picture was nominated for 2004’s 41st Golden Horse Film Festival “Best Short Film” and “Best Visual Effects” awards, confirmation of Xiao Lixiu’s talent. Consequently, Xiao was chosen to direct 2007’s Brotherhood of Legio. The director’s recent works include Forever Love (2013, co-directed by Kitamura Toyoharu), Dream Flight (2014), and the medical drama Wake Up (2014), a serial.
A “lamb” is a sacrificial offering. When oblations are made to the heavens, the spirits assist mortals in dealing with confusion, pain, and suffering. The story is set in the year 2620, 220 years after a nuclear war has taken place, and the earth’s few remaining resources have been collected at the world’s center. Three boys whose extended families have suffered persecution leave home in search of God. The boys believe that if they can find the one true god, misfortune and disaster will be averted. A girl named “12,” who has grown up in an ash-colored house, is said by a priest to be God’s daughter. When she reaches her eighteenth birthday, 12 will be “selected” to go out into the world and help the human race. After she leaves home 12 meets Xiao Lu, the last of the three boys, and together they flee from danger, gradually coming to understand each another, ultimately discovering God’s great secret…
Can Taiwan really turn out a true apocalypse film? To do so, a director must create the right ambience, and have his or her own worldview and philosophy. And, most importantly, audiences have to believe the film’s characters truly come from “that world.” Xiao Lixiu said he made Lamb to prove that films of every category could be done in Taiwan. All of Lamb’s surrealistic scenes and settings – weird structures and barren, windswept wastelands – were produced on the island. Shen Keshang, who has filmed many outstanding documentaries, handled the camera work, accurately controlling 16mm film’s poetically grainy quality, creating an aesthetic atmosphere unprecedented in Taiwanese cinema.
A story of the weak resisting the mighty, Lamb pays homage to the myth of Sisyphus. Although the film may be immature in places, Xiao Lixiu has indeed created a world utterly different from that of contemporary Taipei, writing a new page in the history of Taiwanese cinema. Playing the role of Xiao Lu, Feng Xiaoyue’s jejune performance is perfect for interpreting the character’s fear and weakness. Feng went on to become one of Taiwan’s leading young actors, appearing in Winds of September (2008), Monga (2010), and Girlfriend Boyfriend.
|Related Literary Themes：||Science Fiction and Mystery|