chapter  2
18 Pages

Haunted realism: Postcoloniality and the cinema of Chang Tso-chi

ByChang Tso-chi CHRIS BERRY

Chang Tso-chi’s films seamlessly combine the seemingly incompatible modes of documentary-style realism and fantasy.1 Feii Lu has undertaken a close analysis of Chang’s Darkness and Light (Heian zhi guang, 1999) to demonstrate how its deployment of the shot and reverse-shot structure produces this seamless effect. Drawing on Lu’s essay and Bliss Cua Lim’s writing on “spectral time” in the ghost film, this essay examines the fantastic elements in Chang’s films and in particular The Best of Times (Meili shiguang, 2002) as a powerful means of protesting the normally invisible history of the socially marginalized and dispossessed in Taiwan’s society. Using the idea of “haunted realism” to extend Lim’s insights beyond the ghost film, I further argue that Chang’s innovations demand reconsideration of the famous realism of earlier Taiwan New Cinema films, such as Hou Hsiao-hsien’s works of the 1980s, and of realism in general.