Fri, Oct 17, 2008 - Page 4 News List

‘1895’ to screen in theaters next month: director

By Loa Iok-sin  /  STAFF REPORTER

Funded by the Council for Hakka Affairs, 1895, a movie that tells the story of the resistance against the Japanese invasion in 1895 — the biggest war in Taiwan’s history — will be shown in theaters next month, director Hung Chi-yu (洪智育) said on Wednesday.

After losing the Sino-Japanese War in 1894, the imperial Chinese government signed the Treaty of Shimonoseki with the Empire of Japan, which ceded Taiwan and Penghu to Japan.

Upon hearing the news, Taiwanese decided to organize their own resistance and established the Taiwan Republic — the official English name printed on stamps issued at the time — with Chinese governor-general Tang Ching-sung (唐景崧) as the president.

However, only a few days after the Japanese military landed at a fishing village on the northeast coast, most high officials of the Taiwan Republic fled to China, and Taipei was taken with ease.

Left on their own, three young Hakkas, Wu Tang-hsing (吳湯興), Hsu Hsiang (徐驤) and Chiang Shao-tsu (姜紹祖) — who were in their teens or early 20s at the time — organized a guerrilla front to fight the Japanese.

They fought fierce battles against the Japanese from Hsinchu to Changhua.

Chiang was the first one to die. The Japanese captured him, and he committed suicide in prison. Wu and Hsu carried on the resistance until they finally died in battle on Bagua Mountain (八卦山) in Changhua County. The fighting killed roughly 4,700 Japanese soldiers and 14,000 Taiwanese.

“The entire budget [of the movie] was NT$60 million [US$1.8 million] and it was shot at more than 30 different locations across the country,” Hung said during an interview before a media pre-screening on Wednesday.

To shoot a fight scene between Taiwanese guerrilla forces and the Japanese army that took place in a sugarcane field, “the Taiwan Sugar Corp gave us 2 jia [1.9 hectare] of their sugarcane field, and we burned it all,” Hung said.

However, he said that the movie is not meant to be an epic, but a love story.

“In the movie, I consider these characters as ordinary people whose courage was inspired by love — the love for the island they were living on, the villages they were living in and for the families [they grew up with],” Hung said. “They [fought] because [they] wanted to defend what they loved against the invaders.”

The characters are not presented as superheroes. Rather, they are human beings who commit mistakes and are from time to time sad, happy and regretful.

Freddy Lim (林昶佐), lead vocalist in the heavy metal band Chthonic, was in the audience for the pre-screening on Wednesday and said he was touched.

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