義大利影評 Matteo Boscarol "Some thoughts on Le Moulin (Huang Ya-li, 2015)"












Le Moulin is one of the most challenging and interesting documentaries I’ve had the chance to watch during the past year, thought-provoking in its formal construction and revealing in its themes, the cultural and poetic movements that stirred Taiwan in the last part of the Japanese colonial period. The movie is directed, scripted and photographed by Huang Ya-Li, a young independent experimental Taiwanese filmmaker. His video poetry The Unnamed in 2010 was nominated by the 33th Golden Harvest Awards for Outstanding Short Films (Best Experimental Short Film) in Taiwan and was presented in many countries around the world.


Because of its “headless” structure it’s really difficult, if not impossible, to write a common review of the movie, mirroring the construction of the film itself, I’ve tried to randomly accumulate a series of reflections instead.
Stylistically the movie is a deluge of poetic words & images from a variety of sources: painting, movies, poetry, photos, reenactment and radio programs.
Photos of the French surrealists themselves, lots and lots of their works, Dali, Breton, Cocteau, etc. everything is shown accompanied by spoken poetry written in Japanese by the Moulin group members themselves.


A sort of collage of photos, at least in the first part, a la mode of the Surrealist, but also the dadaists and their Japanese counterpart: fascination with machines, trains & speed, fragmentation of perception through objects.

Footage of Tokyo during the 30s, footage of the Maso festival

The fascination and admiration of the Taiwanese poets with Jean Cocteau and his works is one of the pivotal moment of the movie, he visited Japan for 3 days in May of 1936 where he had the chance to watch a kabuki play and was very impressed by it.


In the enacted sequences, never the faces of the people are shown, but most of the time we see hands, writing, turning pages, lighting cigarettes and holding books or photos. A choice in style that encapsulate the mood of the movie, anti-narrative, non-linear, accumulative and elliptical. Although it proceeds somehow chronologically, from the early 20th century to the total mobilization of the end of the 30′ and Pearl Harbor in 1941, a change in mood and attitude is reflected in the texture of the movie after the deteriorating relationship between Taiwanese and Japanese poets in the late part of the decade, the Allied bombing of Taiwan and, after the surrender, the arrival of “fatherland China” and its sour aftermath.

All in all, the movie functions like a huge and complex poem constructed with digital images, footage, written and spoken poetry, and minimalist music, a cubistic landscape of an era and of the poetic instances traversing the period and the place. The Moulin is in no way an easy watch, but nonetheless a very rewarding experience able to trail blaze uncharted cinematic territories.