In 1949, at the end of the Chinese Civil War, the Nationalist forces of the Kuomintang were forced to retreat to Taiwan, taking with them some 600,000 soldiers and families. Under Chiang Kai-shek’s military regime, these soldiers remained armed and ready to fight for recovery of the mainland. This d...(Read more)
In 1949, at the end of the Chinese Civil War, the Nationalist forces of the Kuomintang were forced to retreat to Taiwan, taking with them some 600,000 soldiers and families. Under Chiang Kai-shek’s military regime, these soldiers remained armed and ready to fight for recovery of the mainland. This dream remained unfulfilled, and Taiwan remained under martial law for nearly 40 years. The director interviews her father and his friends, making for an oral history of KMT veterans. They recount their tragic experience of war, defeat, and the following separation from homeland and life as exiles on the island of Taiwan.
This documentary starts with a family album and goes beyond that, becoming a historical portrait. Because of her compassion for, and identification with, the interviewees, witnessed by her twice entering the frame, this documentary’s supposed objectivity remains the subject of debate.
With a mainlander father and an islander mother and raised in the very Taiwanese city of Kaohsiung, the director handles the sensitive issue of ethnic identification in Taiwan carefully. She defends these veterans of low rank against the islanders’ critique that all mainlanders were agents of the oppressive system that enforced martial law, when in fact, they too were victims of the civil war and the authoritarian KMT government. What’s worse, homeless and restless throughout their lives, they end up lonely and in nursing homes, which often seem like barracks. The documentary shows how they assemble in response to roll calls for the birthday parties and funerals of comrades. It seems that for these men, the civil war never ended, and they will never be able to leave their military service behind them.
Despite being a documentary about men, the title refers to a woman’s hairpin—this is mentioned by the father at the very beginning, but is absent throughout the rest of the film and proves to be lost in the end. The hairpin of the film’s title belonged to a deceased grandmother and, owing to traditional patriarchy, should be handed down along the male line. However, as a female director, the director’s completion of this film has already figuratively reclaimed her right to the heirloom, the memory and history of an exiled generation.
|DVD source：||R.O.C. Ministry of Foreign Affairs.|
|Taiwan Academies, Ministry of Culture, R.O.C. please contact Embassies, Representative Offices of Ministry of Foreign Affairs, R.O.C.|
|Subtitle：||Chinese, English, French, Spanish|
|Producer：||HONG Bi-Wan, KAO Mei-Liang|
2000 Golden Horse Awards, Best Documentary Award
2000 Taiwan International Documentary Festival, Taiwan Award
2001 Visions du Réel International Film Festival, International Competition
2001 Yamagata International Documentary Film Festival, International Competition
2001 International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam