Yu-chi Lai, M A, Graduate Institute of Taiwan History, National Taiwan Normal University
Director Wei Te-Sheng’s two-part Warriors of the Rainbow: Seediq Bale tells the story of the Wushe Incident, a 1930 uprising against the Japanese. Part One, “The Sun Flag,” recounts how the Seediq – one of Taiwan’s indigenous peoples – were subjected to forced labor and relocation, intermarriage, and cultural annihilation under Japanese colonial rule. These and other grievances spurred the indigenes to rise up against their oppressors on the morning of October 27, 1930. Led by tribal chieftain Mouna Rudao, Seediq warriors killed 134 Japanese soldiers and civilians in Wushe, a mountain village in today’s Nantou County. In Part Two, “The Rainbow Bridge,” the Japanese military response is swift and merciless, involving aerial bombardment and the use of poison gas – a war crime – resulting in a great number of Seediq deaths. Seediq resistance is bitter, but Rudao and his people are ultimately defeated, the dead warriors crossing the “rainbow bridge” to join their ancestral spirits.
Director Wei returns the incident to the context of Seediq history and culture through the use of cinematic realism and specific aesthetic symbols – cherry blossoms, blood, the forest, a “rainbow bridge.” In the tribe’s native tongue, “seediq” means “human being” and “bale” means “true.” Branded as “barbaric” and banned by the Japanese, Seediq cultural rites and ceremonies were held by the tribe to be the only true path back to the place of their ancestral spirits. Thus, the Seediq rebellion was the people’s attempt to reclaim their cultural heritage and once again become “true human beings.”
By representing the Wushe Incident from the indigenous people’s perspective, Seediq Bale has stimulated interest in the Japanese colonial period and the history of Taiwan’s original inhabitants. In the film a policeman, a Seediq educated by the Japanese, asks himself before committing suicide: “Are we subjects of the Japanese emperor or descendants of our Seediq ancestors?” The question articulates the difficult choices faced by Seediq who were torn between two cultures. Prior to Seediq Bale other portrayals of the event – the TV series Dana Sakura and cartoonist Qiu Ruolong’s “Manga Bale,” for example – viewed the incident from different perspectives, offering their own interpretations of this sad and violent chapter in Taiwan’s history.
|Related Literary Themes：||Taiwan Literature under Japanese Colonial Rule|