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.