Yang, Edward


Yang, Edward
(né Yang Dechang)
b. 1947, Shanghai
Film director
Yang Dechang moved to Taiwan two years after his birth, received a degree in engineering from Chiao-tung University twenty years later, and then left for the United States. He received an MA in computer science at the University of Florida in 1979 and briefly studied film at the University of Southern California. He worked as a computer specialist in Seattle before returning to Taiwan in 1981.
Yang contributed to the four-part film In Our Time (1982) which helped launch Taiwan’s ‘New Cinema’ movement. That Day on the Beach (1983) and Taipei Story (1984) established Yang’s cinematic focus on Taiwan’s emerging urban modernity which stands in contrast to fellow-director Hou Hsiao-hsien’s emphasis on Taiwan’s old and vanishing village culture. The Terrorizer (1986) confirmed Yang’s stature as a complex and brilliant director interested in the psychological diversity of Taiwanese people coping with the transition from traditional to global values. Through the story of a female mystery author’s writing block that is resolved only when fiction and fact become hopelessly entangled, Yang explores the roles of techurban individual. Confucian Confusion (1995) turned nology and art in isolating and terrorizing the to cinematic density and Oscar Wilde-like rapid-fire humour to convey the chaos of a younger generation, for whom traditional loyalties and personal friendships are sabotaged by the pursuit of economic success. Mahjong (1996) continued this satirical critique. In the gently humourous Yi Yi (2000), Yang’s first international success, he appeared more optimistic, juxtaposing two families in adjacent apartments, one fated for tragedy but the other held together after various personal experiments with extra-marital romance and religious retreats by a return to fundamental family values. Throughout his career, Yang’s film art has sympathized neither with Confucian authority nor with modern materialism. It constructs neither an essentially Chinese nor a distinctly Taiwanese identity, but rather emphasizes the diversity of situations and personalities that constitute Taiwan’s rapidly changing society.
Austerlitz, Saul (2002). ‘Edward Yang’. Senses of Cinema: Great Directors—A Critical Database. Available at http://www.sensesofcinema.com/contents/directors/02/yang.html
Chiao, Peggy (1996). ‘Mahjong. Urban Travails’. Cineyama 33:24–7.
Huang, Jianye (1995). Yang Dechang dianying yanjiu—Taiwan xindianying de zhixing sibianjia [Studies on the Films of Yang Dechang—A Critical Thinker in Taiwan’s New Cinema]. Taipei: Yuanliu.
Li, David Leiwei (2003). ‘Yi Yi: Reflexions on Reflexive Modernity in Taiwan’. In Chris Berry (ed.), Chinese Films in Focus: 25 New Takes. London: BFI, 198–205.
Tam, Kwok-kan and Dissanayake, Wimal (1998). ‘Edward Yang: Visions of Taibei and Cultural Modernity’. In idem (eds), New Chinese Cinema. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
JEROME SILBERGELD

Encyclopedia of contemporary Chinese culture. . 2011.

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