Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Lust, Caution - Censored

As I've mentioned recently, I was drafting two letters of protests over the weekend. One of them was about the screening of the censored version of Lust, Caution at our local cinemas.

Some of you may be familiar with director Ang Lee -- most famous these days for Brokeback Mountain (Lee also did Sense and Sensibility, starring Emma Thompson and Kate Winslet -- as well as the Hulk movie with Eric Bana. What do Austen and Hulk have in common? You tell me). His most recent project is the cinematical adaptation of Eileen Chang's Lust, Caution. Ang Lee released two versions of the film -- the original version runs for 157 minutes, the other is an edited version that he did especially for the China market, which is 148 minutes long.

The local film distributor has only procured the edited China edition for our local cinema . It was a commercial decision as it will allow a NC-16 rating (No Children under 16) for the film -- which means it caters to a wider customer base -- the 16-20 year old market. However, this means they cut out crucial sexual scenes that show the evolution of the characters, their motivations. In short, the edited version is watered-down for an immature masses.

Cost-wise it does not benefit them to bring in both the Uncut and the Edited versions -- why pay for two versions of the same film, and incur extra operational costs by screening them in separate cinemas? From a business angle, I can see the rational behind their decision. But as a consumer, I'm unhappy.

I am boycotting the edited version of Lust, Caution -- a film I have been looking forward to for months. Recently a friend has inspired me to do something more proactive with my dissatisfaction. A boycott doesn't make as much an impact unless they know realise their business decisions are alienating their customers -- and there are commercial repercussions to bad choices.

So, I find myself writing a letter to the General Manager of the film distributor. I have explained to him the reasons behind my boycott of the edited version, and how I will continue to actively encourage my friends, family and colleagues to do the same.

As I was emailing a colleague about writing in to protest the censored Lust, Caution, she replied that she was just asked to sign a petition appealing for UN intervention in Burma. She remarked how it suddenly throws our boycott of a film into perspective -- how trivial a protest on film censorship seems compared to the Burmese monks with their protest against a corrupt military government.

She's absolutely right. The world is greater than our personal slights and discomfort -- but we have to start somewhere. We start first, with the little things that matters. Then we learn, we grow stronger, and we start to stand up for the bigger things that matter.

At least I hope so.


Rebecca H. said...

Good for you! It IS good to do something instead of merely complaining about it. I'll make sure to see this movie as soon as I can ...

Doc Martian said...

hee hee hee. keep it up and you'll be calling out israel for the rascals they are in no time.


p.s. some nations make messes in OTHER nations so that THEIR nation doesn't look like such a big mess.

darkorpheus said...

Dorothy Thanks -- my friend is right -- sometimes we need to channel those energy in a more positive manner. And oh yes, please do try to catch Lust, Caution. Tony Leung is just one of the most compelling actors in Asia cinema these days. I adore him.

Doc Don't think I'm ready to be so political yet -- but I agree -- some countries ought to focus more on their domestic affairs before they be allowed to meddle in foreign affairs.

Carl V. Anderson said...

I think it is sometimes a trap to get into comparing what could be trivial with what is actually happening in the world. The reason being is that, if taken too far, a person could paralyze themself from the day to day part of living a life if all they think on and dwell on is what they could be doing to help someone else, etc. I'm not advocating selfishness, what I am saying is that if you feel passionate enough about something to protest it, you should. That decision should not be predicated on comparing that cause to other causes one could get involved in. It is important to be aware of what is happening outside one's own sphere and it is important to get involved, but I know too many people who just get themselves overwhelmed by trying to do too much and by not allowing themselves to actually have and enjoy a life of their own. As always, it is all about balance. Go protest your film!

Anonymous said...

I'm interested in seeing the movie, heard about it on NPR not long ago. I had no idea there was a censored version. When I get around to seeing it I will have to make sure I am seeing the right one. Good for you for sending a letter of protest. It might seem a small act of protest considering what is going on in Burma, but it is still important.

Anonymous said...

I'm wondering how many films are "edited" (cut? censored?)Many, most likely. I applaud your letter writing. Why not also do another post, here, include the name of the company (and the person/persons) doing the censoring; identify the location, name of movie theater, etc.Add copies of your blog entries w/your letter. Send to the newspaper and to the offending company. Can you start a petition of those who protest? Keep us posted.

darkorpheus said...

Carl Hey, man - thanks. :)

Stefanie The censored version was for the China market - so you'll probably have the original unadultered version at your local cinema. Shouldn't be a

Abby Hi. Thanks for dropping a note.

Actually, quite a lot of films are censored - esp. in our local cinemas. The last film I boycotted because of the cuts was "Inside Man" - the one starring Cilve Owen, Denzel Washington and Jodie Foster. They censored it for swear words.

Thank you for the support - but I found out this afternoon that the censored version of "Lust, Caution" was Number 1 on the box-office chart here. I'm a little disheartened. My letter isn't going to help anything unless people are willing to stay away from the cinema.

Anonymous said...

I should keep my finger crossed on what version I'm viewing. I believe they are showing the original cut, full 158 minutes in Hong Kong when Ang Lee showed up at the premiere.

For those countries that can't even bear 9 minutes of graphic scenes, maybe they should ban the film altogether. Why even shows it?

How do you like the book, by the way? :)