Eileen Chang circa 1930’s
The life and work of Eileen Chang have come down to us now as the stuff of legend. From her meteoric rise in late Republican Shanghai to her lonely death in Los Angeles, Chang’s life and work remain captivating.
Those of you who’ve attended our Tuesday evening film screenings may have heard me talk about hosting an Eileen Chang series for some time. I have to admit that it’s been a struggle. It’s ironic, really because It turns out that Hong Kong filmmakers are enamored with her work. Perhaps it's her pitch-perfect atmospheric descriptions or her sophisticated take on divided loyalties that have inspired these filmmakers to make movies based on her books. There are also several films that she made as a screenwriter both in Shanghai and in Hong Kong that deserves our attention. I’ve been working hard to present something that does her work justice which is why this series will also be part of a larger group of events that will include walks and other happenings.
Tang Wei / 湯唯 still from "Lust, Caution"
The first film in the series I’d like to screen is "Lust, Caution" / 色，戒. If you go to Google Scholar and type in "Lust Caution" you’ll get over 62,000 citations of scholarly work on both the film, made by Ang Lee and the novella written by Chang. Whether you think that the film opened old wounds or began an important dialogue it showed how difficult it is to present Chang’s work to the wider world. The story, a classic honey pot espionage thriller, adds the dimension of moral ambiguity which is both thought-provoking and unsettling. In many ways, it typifies Chang’s work and is a great place to start in the series.
Please note that because of the films running time we’ll be starting the film at 6:45 PM SHARP.