Edward Yang was a Taiwanese filmmaker who is widely regarded as one of the most important and influential directors in the history of Taiwanese cinema.

He was known for his sensitive and nuanced portrayals of contemporary urban life in Taiwan, as well as for his exploration of themes of identity, memory, and social change.

Yang’s films were noted for their meticulous attention to detail, their poetic and highly artistic style, and their profound and moving exploration of the human experience.

He was a master of visual storytelling, and used his camera to capture the complexities and contradictions of modern life in Taiwan.

Some of Yang’s most celebrated films include “A Brighter Summer Day” (1991), which explores the lives of teenagers in 1960s Taiwan, “Yi Yi” (2000), which tells the story of a Taiwanese family over the course of a year, and “The Terrorizers” (1986), which explores the interconnected lives of a group of strangers in Taipei.

Best Edward Yang Films

Yang’s films are widely regarded as masterpieces of world cinema, and have been praised for their profound insights into the human condition.

They offer a window into the social and cultural landscape of Taiwan, and continue to inspire and influence filmmakers around the world.

1. A Brighter Summer Day (1991)

“A Brighter Summer Day” is a 1991 Taiwanese film directed by Hou Hsiao-Hsien. The film is based on a real-life incident that occurred in Taipei in the early 1960s and follows the story of a young boy named Xiao Si’r as he navigates the social and political changes of his time.

Here’s a brief introduction to the film:

The film takes place in the early 1960s in Taiwan, during a period of great social and political upheaval.

The story follows the life of a young boy named Xiao Si’r, who is struggling to find his place in a world that is rapidly changing.

Xiao Si’r is a member of a street gang, but he is also an intelligent and curious student who is drawn to literature and poetry.

As he navigates the world of his gang, he also becomes involved in a complex web of relationships with his family, friends, and classmates.

The film is notable for its masterful storytelling, nuanced characters, and stunning cinematography.

   

Hou Hsiao-Hsien’s signature style of long takes and minimalistic camera movements is on full display in this film, creating a sense of intimacy and immersion that draws the viewer into the world of the story.

“A Brighter Summer Day” is widely regarded as one of the greatest films ever made and is a must-watch for anyone interested in cinema that explores complex themes and tells emotionally resonant stories.

A Brighter Summer Day (The Criterion Collection) [DVD]
  • Chang Chen, Lisa Yang (Actors)
  • Edward Yang (Director)
  • English (Subtitle)
  • Spanish (Publication Language)
  • Audience Rating: NR (Not Rated)

2. Yi Yi: A One and a Two… (2000)

“Yi Yi: A One and a Two…” is a 2000 Taiwanese film directed by Edward Yang. The film is a family drama that follows the lives of a middle-class Taiwanese family over the course of a year.

The film is known for its complex characters, beautiful cinematography, and its sensitive portrayal of human relationships. Here are some of the key elements that make “Yi Yi” a remarkable film:

Multi-generational family drama: “Yi Yi” is a richly textured exploration of family dynamics.

The film follows a large family through a series of interrelated storylines that explore the complex relationships between parents and children, husbands and wives, and siblings.

The film offers a nuanced portrayal of the tensions and conflicts that arise in even the closest of families.

Overall, “Yi Yi” is a powerful and deeply moving film that explores the complexities of modern life and the nuances of human relationships.

   

The film is a masterpiece of the Taiwanese New Wave and is widely regarded as one of the greatest films of the 21st century.

Yi Yi: A One and a Two [DVD]
  • Nien-Jen Wu, Elaine Jin, Issei Ogata (Actors)
  • Edward Yang (Director) - Edward Yang (Writer)
  • English (Subtitle)
  • Audience Rating: NR (Not Rated)

3. The Terrorizers (1986)

“The Terrorizers” is a 1986 Taiwanese film directed by Edward Yang. The film tells the story of a group of strangers whose lives become interconnected in unexpected and sometimes tragic ways.

The film is noted for its complex narrative structure, its intricate plotting, and its exploration of themes of alienation, loneliness, and existential angst.

“The Terrorizers” is a visually stunning and emotionally intense work of cinema. The film is known for its poetic and highly artistic style, as well as for its profound and moving exploration of the human experience.

It is a meditation on the complexities of human relationships, and a powerful commentary on the social and cultural landscape of Taiwan in the 1980s.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IwXTMITwmlg

“The Terrorizers” was highly acclaimed upon its release and is now considered a classic of Taiwanese cinema.

The film won the Best Director award at the Golden Horse Awards, and has been praised for its meticulous attention to detail, its multi-layered narrative, and its profound insights into the human condition.

It remains a powerful and affecting work of cinema, and a testament to the artistry and vision of director Edward Yang.

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4. That Day, on the Beach (1983)

“That Day, on the Beach” is a 1983 film directed by Edward Yang, a key figure of the Taiwanese New Wave movement.

The film is a poignant exploration of memory, identity, and relationships, and is widely regarded as a masterpiece of Taiwanese cinema. Here’s a brief introduction to the film:

The film is set in the 1970s and follows the story of three young friends – Hsiao-kang, Ah-tze, and Ah-ping – as they spend a day at the beach.

   

Hsiao-kang is a quiet and introspective young man who is struggling to come to terms with his identity and his place in the world.

Ah-tze is a rebellious and impulsive youth who has a troubled home life, while Ah-ping is a sensitive and artistic girl who is dealing with her own personal struggles.

“That Day, on the Beach” is widely regarded as one of Edward Yang’s greatest films and a key work of the Taiwanese New Wave movement.

The film’s masterful storytelling, nuanced characters, and stunning cinematography make it a must-watch for anyone interested in cinema that explores the complexities of human experience.

5. A Confucian Confusion (1994)

“A Confucian Confusion” is a 1994 film directed by Edward Yang, a key figure of the Taiwanese New Wave movement.

The film is a sprawling, multi-narrative satire that explores the contradictions and absurdities of contemporary Taiwanese society. Here’s a brief introduction to the film:

The film is set in Taipei in the early 1990s and follows the lives of a large cast of characters from different social classes and backgrounds.

The film weaves together multiple narrative threads that are often humorous and absurd, but also reveal the underlying tensions and contradictions of Taiwanese society.

Some of the characters include a young woman trying to navigate her way through the cutthroat world of advertising, a high school student who becomes embroiled in a love triangle, and a businessman who is trying to deal with a corrupt government bureaucracy.

“A Confucian Confusion” is widely regarded as one of Edward Yang’s greatest films and a key work of the Taiwanese New Wave movement.

The film’s masterful storytelling, sharp social commentary, and dark humor make it a must-watch for anyone interested in cinema that explores the complexities of modern life.

6. Mahjong (1996)

“A Confucian Confusion” is a 1994 film directed by Edward Yang, a key figure of the Taiwanese New Wave movement.

The film is a sprawling, multi-narrative satire that explores the contradictions and absurdities of contemporary Taiwanese society. Here’s a brief introduction to the film:

The film is set in Taipei in the early 1990s and follows the lives of a large cast of characters from different social classes and backgrounds.

The film weaves together multiple narrative threads that are often humorous and absurd, but also reveal the underlying tensions and contradictions of Taiwanese society.

Some of the characters include a young woman trying to navigate her way through the cutthroat world of advertising, a high school student who becomes embroiled in a love triangle, and a businessman who is trying to deal with a corrupt government bureaucracy.

“A Confucian Confusion” is widely regarded as one of Edward Yang’s greatest films and a key work of the Taiwanese New Wave movement.

The film’s masterful storytelling, sharp social commentary, and dark humor make it a must-watch for anyone interested in cinema that explores the complexities of modern life.

7. Taipei Story (1985)

“Taipei Story” is a 1985 Taiwanese film directed by Edward Yang. The film explores the lives of a couple, Lung and Chin, as they navigate the social and economic changes taking place in modern Taiwan.

The film is noted for its poignant portrayal of the challenges facing young people in Taiwan, and for its exploration of themes of cultural identity, social dislocation, and personal responsibility.

“Taipei Story” is a highly acclaimed and influential work of cinema. The film is noted for its slow, contemplative pacing, its nuanced and complex characterizations, and its depiction of contemporary Taipei as a city in flux.

It is also praised for its powerful and affecting emotional impact, as well as for its sensitive and nuanced portrayal of the complexities of human relationships.

The film was highly acclaimed upon its release and is now regarded as a classic of Taiwanese cinema.

It has been praised for its profound insights into the social and cultural landscape of Taiwan, and for its contribution to the emergence of a new wave of Taiwanese cinema in the 1980s.

“Taipei Story” remains a powerful and affecting work of cinema, and a testament to the artistry and vision of director Edward Yang.

Taipei Story
  • French (Subtitle)
  • French (Publication Language)

8. In Our Time (1982)

“In Our Time” is a 1982 Taiwanese film directed by Edward Yang, comprising of four vignettes, each exploring the lives of different individuals at different stages of life.

Here are some reasons why “In Our Time” is a notable film:

Realistic portrayal of contemporary Taiwan: “In Our Time” provides a realistic portrayal of life in contemporary Taiwan, showing the rapid social and economic changes taking place in the country during the 1980s.

The film captures the essence of everyday life, and the struggles and aspirations of ordinary people.

Multidimensional characters: The characters in the film are multidimensional and complex, with their own desires, struggles, and dreams.

The film portrays their relationships and interactions in a way that is both realistic and empathetic.

Use of different filmmaking techniques: Each vignette in “In Our Time” is shot using a different filmmaking technique, ranging from naturalistic to more stylized approaches.

This allows the film to explore different moods and emotions, making it a rich and varied viewing experience.

Overall, “In Our Time” is a powerful and poignant film that offers a realistic and nuanced portrayal of contemporary Taiwan.

The film is a reflection of the changing times and the dislocation that comes with it, and remains a landmark in Taiwanese cinema.

In Our Time
  • Ida Lupino, Paul Henreid, Nancy Coleman (Actors)
  • Vincent Sherman (Director)

3 Characteristics of Edward Yang Films

Edward Yang was a highly influential Taiwanese filmmaker known for his poetic and insightful exploration of the complexities of modern life. Here are three characteristics that are often associated with his films:

Humanism: One of the defining characteristics of Edward Yang’s films is their deep humanism.

Yang was known for his ability to portray the intricacies of human relationships, and his films are noted for their empathy and compassion for their characters.

Social commentary: Another characteristic of Edward Yang’s films is their incisive social commentary.

Yang’s films often explore the social and cultural changes taking place in Taiwan during the 20th century, and offer a commentary on the challenges and opportunities of modern life.

Complex narratives: Edward Yang’s films are also noted for their complex narrative structures. Yang was known for his use of non-linear storytelling, multiple character perspectives, and a rich layering of themes and ideas.

His films often require active engagement from the viewer, and are deeply rewarding for those willing to invest the time and attention to fully appreciate them.

   

3 Reasons Why You Should Watch Edward Yang Films

Masterful storytelling: Edward Yang was a skilled storyteller who crafted films that were both intricate and emotionally resonant.

His films often explored the complexities of contemporary Taiwanese society, weaving together multiple narrative threads and richly drawn characters to create compelling and layered stories.

Social commentary: Yang’s films were known for their sharp social commentary, exploring issues such as modernization, globalization, and the tensions between tradition and modernity.

Through his films, Yang was able to critique the hypocrisies and contradictions of contemporary Taiwanese society, while also celebrating its resilience and humanity.

Cinematic artistry: Yang was a master of cinematic artistry, using cinematography, music, and sound design to create films that were visually stunning and immersive.

His films often featured long takes and complex tracking shots that emphasized the connections between characters and the wider world around them.

Yang’s use of color and light was also noteworthy, often conveying complex emotions and moods through visual cues.

In summary, watching Edward Yang’s films is a chance to experience masterful storytelling, insightful social commentary, and stunning cinematic artistry.

Whether you are interested in Taiwanese cinema, international art films, or simply great storytelling, Edward Yang’s films are not to be missed.

Best Edward Yang Films – Wrapping Up

Edward Yang was a highly influential filmmaker in Taiwanese cinema, known for his realistic and poignant portrayals of life in contemporary Taiwan. Here is a list of some of his best films:

A Brighter Summer Day (1991) – A coming-of-age drama set in the 1960s that explores the cultural, social and political changes taking place in Taiwan.

Yi Yi: A One and a Two… (2000) – A family drama that explores the complexities and contradictions of modern life in Taipei, focusing on three generations of a middle-class family.

Taipei Story (1985) – A character-driven drama that portrays the alienation and dislocation of urban life in Taipei.

The Terrorizers (1986) – A multi-layered narrative that weaves together different stories to explore themes of violence, alienation and existential despair.

That Day, on the Beach (1983) – A poetic and dreamlike meditation on memory, identity, and the transience of life.

In Our Time (1982) – A collection of four vignettes that explore different aspects of life in Taiwan at different stages of life.

These films showcase Yang’s ability to create nuanced, empathetic portrayals of human experience, exploring the complexities and contradictions of life in Taiwan.

Yang’s work remains highly regarded and continues to influence contemporary filmmakers around the world.