A while ago, when I came across a trailer for the film 「看見台灣」, titled “Beyond beauty, Taiwan from above” in English, I was initially sceptical - Taiwan’s landscape and scenery is undeniably exceptionally beautiful in many areas, and having visited some of these areas and seen other media displaying such e.g. Formosat-2 imagery, I wasn’t so inspired by a movie showing this - I’d much prefer to go and see these places for myself; but then the trailer said 「。。。理解她的美麗跟哀愁」- “understand… beauty and sadness” and so with the promise of balance rarely found and more information than just pretty pictures, 「看見台灣」 went on to the list of movies I’d like to go and see.

Yesterday in a quirk of fate a friend invited me to watch a movie and it turned out to be an open air public preview of 「看見台灣」 at 中正紀念堂. As I’m writing this you’ve likely realised the film is either worth shouting about or shouting at… It’s the former. The movie depicted the great beauty and extensive change in Taiwan’s environment in a tranquil way whilst leaving you to draw your own conclusions. It had a logical flow that made it easy to understand the interrelationships between various aspects.

A few of my thoughts… While displaying the effects of commercial agriculture / aquaculture, big industry, mass housing, religious / cultural / tourist activity, the filmmaker managed to tread the fine line between presenting their information and assigning blame on to any specific single party. Also, they successfully highlighted that being “environmentally minded” in the colloquial sense, remembering to turn lights off, recycle plastic bottles and such, is essential but will be nowhere near enough. Human life as we know it in the ‘developed world’ is unsustainable and a total paradigm shift will be required to survive. Well, that’s part of my personal conclusion - in fact the key magic of the film is that whilst the filmmaker’s concerns are clear, any conclusions are left open and the viewer is welcome to determine their own ideas in response the the implicit question 《所以,怎麼辦?》.

Not interested in Taiwan? … Watch the film anyway! Taiwan is an island, a small densely populated island - the issues exposed may not manifest as quickly in other places but they are definitely on the horizon, fast approaching.

Not interested in “enviro-fanatic” / dull documentary films? …It’s neither of those, and if you’ve ended up with that impression, it’s solely my fault (go and watch the film for yourself).

Below is the trailer. 「看見台灣」, in Chinese with English subtitles, will be on in Taiwanese Cinemas from November 1st: