October 30, 2007 08:01
The Taiwanese-American director Ang Lee was in Korea for the first time in seven years since his last visit with his Oscar-winning film "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon."
This time, he brought his 11th film "Lust, Caution" with him, winner of the Golden Lion at the 64th Venice International Film Festival a month ago. Not the least of its attractions are the sex scenes betweeen Hong Komg legend Tony Leung and new face Tang Wei.
At a press conference on Monday morning, Lee explained that sex is a means to express hatred, love and anger in the movie. In a separate interview in the afternoon on the same day, he confessed it was so hard to deal with the sex scenes emotionally that he even wept at one stage.
Unlike previous works that dealt with what might be called emotional eroticism -- his debut film "Pushing Hands" in 1992, "Eat Drink Man Woman" in 1994, "Sense and Sensibility" in 1995, "Brokeback Mountain" in 2005 and even "Hulk" in 2003 -- "Lust, Caution" focuses on a more raw sensual experience.
The bold nude scenes are departure for Leung. Hong Kong tabloids reported that even the actor himself complained about the scenes after watching the edited film; but Ang denies the reports, saying Leung reassured him not to pay any attention to the rumors.
"I believe that extremely suppressed feelings end up finding a physical expression," Lee says. "The subconscious of 'Hulk,' who has to turn into a monster, is not essentially different from the inner world of the leading characters of "Lust, Caution," who cannot help having sex despite their hatred."
Set in Shanghai and Hong Kong during the 1940s, "Lust, Caution" is a period drama dealing with a woman spy (Tang Wei) who tries to kill a top Japanese collaborator (Leung), and her inner conflict between finding her sexuality and her patriotism.
For Korean audiences, this is being sold as a commercial film rather than an art film. This may be the reason that quite a few people were surprised at news that the film won the Golden Lion in Venice.
The director himself seems surprised. "Frankly speaking, I didn't expect to win at the Venice Film Festival at all," he says. "To Western critics and audiences who are not familiar with Asian culture, the film must seem like an art film."
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