Mon, Oct 21, 2019 - Page 3 News List

INTERVIEW: Adapting ‘Detention’ to screen was a challenge: Hsu

Director John Hsu in an interview with ‘Liberty Times’ (sister newspaper of the ‘Taipei Times’) staff reporter Lan Tsu-wei explained his views on a psychological horror blockbuster set during the White Terror era, and his struggle to find a balance between creating a film that lives up to the expectations of people who played the original video game while making sense to those unfamiliar with it

Perhaps before seeing the movie they knew nothing about the White Terror era, but these are different times. These young people are more open-minded than people from that era, and more willing to understand history.

They are also more capable of independent thinking than we were, and receive information from a larger number of sources than we did. They are less afraid of challenging authority. I feel like we must have opened a door to make them more willing to look back at those years.

The response to the movie from the older generation was also quite varied. Naturally, there were those who felt that the harsh atmosphere of the era was handled too lightly, but there were also those who said it was as if the film had “switched on” memories from the period they were not even aware they had.

During a question-and-answer session following a screening, some of the older viewers were stirred emotionally. They said they had never thought about how things unfolded back then. At the time my feeling was that if I were more capable I could include more details about the White Terror era, and the outcome would be even better.

LT: What do you feel is the greatest significance of this film?

Hsu: As I said earlier, I do not dare say that I am qualified to handle this period of history, but the film reached a much greater audience than I had imagined it would.

In the beginning, I did think about how the movie would trigger discussion on the subject, but I never imagined the response would be so great. In the past if you were to touch upon a subject as heavy as the White Terror era, your film would not do well at the box office.

Previous directors earned great respect for delving so deeply into the subject, but the question remained of how to get an audience into the movie theater.

Now, with this movie surpassing NT$250 million in ticket sales, it is obvious that people are willing to see this type of movie. In the future I anticipate the emergence of many more great storytellers who will broach this subject with even greater efficacy.

Translated by staff writers Sherry Hsiao and William Hetherington

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