Poetics and politics of Hou Hsiao-hsien’s films
Texas A&M University-Commerce
Taiwanese director Hou Hsiao-hsien's films always have abrupt endings, which invite a reconstruction of the story piece by piece. These endings epitomize his film art - detached, distant and, at the same time, quotidian and compassionate. This style not only bears Hou's directorial signature but also encapsulates "Hou Hsiao-hsien" as a discursive object in Taiwan. In Taiwan's film history, no other director has ever been bestowed with as many international awards as Hou; and in the 1980s and 1990s, no other film director evoked as many polemics as Hou did. He is treated to harsh scrutiny by critics in Taiwan. What Hou Hsiao-hsien signifies at home is never truly about film, or film studies. Instead, the contradictory meanings that arise from him and his works represent a cobweb of authenticity, commodity, and discursive power. "Hou Hsiao-hsien," therefore, is a key to understanding Taiwanese cinema, its form, reception, and politics.
This article also published in S. H. Lu & E. Y.-y. Yeh (eds.) (2005), Chinese-language film: Historiography, poetics, politics (pp. 163-185). Honolulu: University of Hawaiʻi Press.
Yeh, Y.-y. (2001). Poetics and politics of Hou Hsiao-hsien’s films. Post Script, 20(2-3), 61-76.