Sunday, July 01, 2007

Edward Yang Has Died

Edward Yang - simply put, one of the very few greatest film directors of all time - has died, aged 59. He died on Friday, from 'complications from colon cancer'.

Yang's last film is perhaps his best known, Yi Yi or A One and a Two, at least in the UK and US. So far, it is the only film in his catalogue to be available through Criterion, though several prior DVD releases of the title featured a commentary track from Yang and if you don't want to stretch to Criterion prices, pick any of them up. His greatest film, I'm sure, was A Brighter Summer Day - I'm sure because it's definitely one of the five best films of all time.

I've never been able to find A Brighter Summer Day on DVD but I caught a TV screening years ago and, in one of my favourite trips to the cinema, saw it at the ICA shortly after the release of Yi Yi in England (me and about twelve other people - which has always annoyed me; where were you all?). If you ever have a chance to see this film - even if you'll have to drive a few hours to get to it - then do so.

Incredibly, over a hundred 'amateur' actors take on significant roles in Day across the four-hour running time. Yang managed to attain an almost entirely consistent, not to mention consistently compelling, convincing and fresh bank of performances.

Yang's grasp of mise en scene and montage were exemplary, his ambition and scope genuinely awe inspiring and the depth and sophistication of his characterisations and narrative and thematic construction
belie only brilliance of cinematic thinking and understanding.

This came out in lumps, and was clunky, because I only found out the news seconds before writing the first words of the post. But I love Yangs films - love them - and I had to say something now, so that you know.


Anonymous said...

It's a sad day for cinema.

Yi Yi was so much more than that other 'tapestry' film from the same time, Magnolia. Though I haven't seen his other films, I can tell we've lost a master.

Anonymous said...

What a loss! Unfortunately I haven't seen 'A Brighter Summer Day', yet, but 'Yi Yi' is a masterpiece.

I remember asking Tony Rayns some years ago about Edward Yang, who was working on his website then.