Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Ang Lee and the pursuit of dreams

Taiwanese director Ang Lee receives his Oscar on Sunday
A nation is not built on lawyers, doctors and businesspeople alone; it needs thinkers, writers, philosophers, filmmakers, painters, architects and professional athletes 

Taiwanese film director Ang Lee’s (李安) award of best director at the Oscars on Sunday night for Life of Pi was a source of tremendous pride for Taiwan, especially after he thanked Taiwanese for their help in making the movie. 

The Oscar is a new benchmark in Lee’s illustrious career and one that he made little secret he coveted. However, the evidence of his greatness as a filmmaker manifested itself well before the 58-year-old native of Pingtung County stepped onto the podium to receive his Oscar. 

Over the years, Lee has transcended his identity as an Asian and tackled with great precision a surprisingly versatile list of genres, from Victorian Britain in Sense and Sensibility — a feat of civilizational displacement perhaps only equaled by Japanese novelist Kazuo Ishiguro in his book The Remains of the Day — to the American West and male homosexuality in Brokeback Mountain. From less ambitious and more local efforts like his Father Knows Best trilogy (家庭三部曲) to the martial arts extravaganza Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (臥虎藏龍), Lee has constantly pushed the envelope of storytelling and proven himself as one of the greatest filmmakers of our time. 

However, there was nothing preordained in Lee’s rise to the top. My unsigned editorial, published today in the Taipei Times, continues here.

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