Yi-Ming employs Sui-Mi as his daughter’s tutor. When Sui-Mi arrives at Yi-Ming’s, she finds herself in an aristocratic mansion. Yi-Ming’s wife, Sui-Hun, was suspected of an affair and is presumed to have drowned in the sea. Yi-Ming himself is found to be too intimate with his best friend’s wife. And...(Read more)
Yi-Ming employs Sui-Mi as his daughter’s tutor. When Sui-Mi arrives at Yi-Ming’s, she finds herself in an aristocratic mansion. Yi-Ming’s wife, Sui-Hun, was suspected of an affair and is presumed to have drowned in the sea. Yi-Ming himself is found to be too intimate with his best friend’s wife. And on top of this, the housekeeper’s granddaughter is always sneaking around as if withholding some secret. After several strange incidents, Sui-Mi suspects the house is haunted, and Sui-Hun’s diary reveals that her disappearance is no accident. Meanwhile, Sui-Mi and Yi-Ming fall in love and decide to get married. On the eve of their wedding, someone traps Sui-Mi in a cellar, where she finds the corpse of Yi-Ming’s missing wife….
This film is both the full blossom of “Taiwanese-language Cinema” (1955-1972) and a unique flower of its own in Taiwanese film history. Adapted from the English romance novel Mistress of Mellyn, which itself mainly derived from Jane Eyre, the adaptation is so Taiwanese, including its characters, languages and settings, that it can appear campy to audiences today. It illustrates the enthusiasm of the time and endeavors to explore new stories and fresh elements, while also demonstrating director Hsin Chi’s experimentalism. The narrative combines the rifts, risks, and restoration of domestic (usually patriarchal) order of family melodrama with the suspense, mystery, romantic entanglement, and supernatural elements of Gothic romance. Characters are numerous, their relationships are complicated, the plot twists and turns, and the visual style is poignant. Achievement of all these traits shows Hsin Chi has mastered the various classical languages and their effects and pathos. The film seems like a studio production. It is set mainly in Beitou, a northern suburb of Taipei, which was called “Taiwan’s Hollywood” at the time, though the studio system wasn’t fully developed. The importance or dominance of female characters stands in the novel, its genre tradition, and the film as well. In this film, women fall victim not only to patriarchy, but also to other women. Yet women might not necessarily be victims, but could also be saviors. In this film, then, it is women, not men, who save women. Moreover, this film redefines “mother and daughter” and “sisterhood” outside the blood-tie tradition. Though not quite a “feminist film,” this film is full of diverse “female consciousness.”
DVD source：Taiwan Cinema Toolkit, Ministry of Culture, R.O.C.
|Color：||B & W|
|Producer：||DAI Chuan-Li, WENG Zong-Kun, XU Qiu-Mei,|
|Actors：||CHIN Mei, KO Chun-Hsiung, OU Wei, LIU Qing|
Theroyalty period of this film has expired. Taiwan Cinema Toolkit could no longer authorizescreenings.
Howard Yang, Taiwan Film Institute