Image via Amazon and Coffee House-The Spectator
HBO Asia released that an adaptation of the Man Booker Prize-shortlisted, Man Asian Literary Prize-winning, and Walter Scott Prize-awarded novel The Garden Of Evening Mists, will be produced by Astro Shaw and Finas (National Film Council of Malaysia), adapted by Taiwanese director Tom Lin Shu-yu 林書宇, and starred in by international actors including Hiroshi Abe, Angelica Lee Sinje, Sylvia Chang Ai-chia, John Hannah, David Oakes, and Julian Sands.
Angelica Lee Sinje and Hiroshi Abe | Image via South China Morning Post
Set in Malaysia, the film will have two temporal axes: 1950s and 1980s. The story pivots around the life Teoh Yun Ling, a former prisoner of the Japanese during World War II, in the 1980s (Chang Ai-chia). We will see the young Yun Ling of the 1950s (starred Angelica Lee Sinje) in a flashback. The death of Yun Hong, her sister who is forced to be a comfort girl to Japanese soldiers, makes Yun Ling lived in huge grief attached with a sense of guilt. To fulfill Yun Hong’s last wish, Yun Ling decides to build a Japanese garden in their home in Kuala Lumpur where she meets a Japanese gardener Nakamura Aritomo (starred Hiroshi Abe) and fall in love with him.
Taiwanese director Tom Lin Shu-yu | Image via South China Morning Post
Known for his Jiu jiang feng 九降風 (2008), Xing kong 星空 (2011), and Bai ri gaobie 百日告別 (2015), Director Lin shared his emotional first time encounter with the story and the expected challenges in filming:
When I was approached, halfway through reading it I knew I wanted to do this book…At that time I didn’t know much about Malaysia but the story was so moving and the character Yun Ling was so relatable. I guess the big difference is this is my first historical period movie, so there’s a lot of research to put in and we’ve worked very hard to get it right historically and emotionally.
Image via Lonely Planet
The shooting will be on location in the Cameron Highlands, just outside Kuala Lumpur. To 100 per cent represent the story, the production team plans to build the house and garden based on the narrative. Directer Lin said:
The garden plays an integral part of the story so we built it. I assume when we finish the shoot, the landowner will keep the house and make it a theme site…We’re very proud of the house and the garden. The story is based on reality so we’re using as little CGI as possible. Even the mist. But it is tricky shooting outdoors in Malaysia.
This novel was on my summer reading list and I did indeed enjoy reading it. The author beautifully and deeply describes the relationship between memory and trauma, lingering in the post-war misty garden. I can’t wait to see the film adaptation in 2019!
Featured Image Via movies.yahoo.com.tw