Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Conversations with T.F. Mou continues, working on the segment about his early film career now. Hunting around for old Taiwanese martial arts films to use as archive footage as to what was mostly produced back then. In one of his most famous interviews, he mentions a film called Give Us Back Our Country. I weirdly pictured it as being some kind of propaganda film on the horrors of communist China and asked Mou about it back in July, it's actually an epic period piece based on a very beloved Chinese legend. The reason the Taiwanese government supported it very vigorously was because the story, set during China's ancient Warring States period, concerns countryment of a peaceful state who lose their homeland to a hostile one and must fight to get it back, something the Chinese population of Taiwan empathized heavily with. In the West it was retitled Fire Bulls and is a 1966 production and actually pretty easy to find on region 1 DVD. Bizarrely enough, I already hunted down Fire Bulls as the film I was going to show because it's directed by Pai Ching-jui and Lee Chia who were two of Mou's mentors in the 60s Taiwan film industry, not knowing that it actually was the aforementioned Give Us Back Our Country just under a different title.For this week's gift, here's a cool, rare Hong Kong lobby card for Men Behind the Sun. It shows one visually lush scene, of the 731 Youth Corp marching by a seashore, that was cut. The lobby cards, stills and behind the scenes photo albums Mou shared with me show a couple scenes here and there that were obviously cut from the film. I'm sure how much gore was cut from the movie, Mou hinted that he had shot some footage of the boy's face being dissected in the autopsy scene (picture the "face pull off" scene in Ebola Syndrome, but with a real child's corpse) but cut that because he thought it was just too shocking. Most of the cuts to the film appear to be character scenes for pacing purposes, there's also a scene where the young soldiers are given a lesson in bacteria with microscopes in a classroom.

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