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Asian History and Culture Through Films and Literature, Essay Example

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Essay

Asian literature with regards the history of the Asian region has been influenced by space, geography, history, and cultural practices. For instance, through the years, time has been one of the most imposing elements that controlled the different manners by which the human society lived and followed a particular path towards progress. Time in history is not only defined as the division of hours and minutes in a day or in years, in history, time is defined as a controlling element that initiates changes and adjustments on both culture and traditions that make up the society. Undeniably, time has become a strong force that identifies the kind of development that one particular society is noted for.

Seen through movies and read through literary presentations, the changes incurred through time shall be better defined in this discussion in correlation with the impact that it has been making to the developments being embraced by the Asian region[1]. A definite indication on how time has become one of the main factors for change and how these changes affected the lives of the many Asians in the area shall be further challenged through the referencing of two contemporary films. The filmmakers have created  a challenging visual and thought provoking view of how traditions and personal freedoms are incongruent. The films also look at how fear is related to the notion of time andthis surrounds the potential of losing traditionswhich changes Asian culture making it far more cautious.

Asia, being a collection of the different regions that live their traditional lives apart from that of the Western regions, has undergone several points of changes through the years of development. It could not be denied that Asia has become one remarkable region that has grown from traditional to becoming more global at present. These changes have been further defined through time. The changes that the Asian society has incurred through the years specifically define the kind of development that the region embraces and allows to affect their communities. True, to these changes, there are both the pros and cons of the system. People, being able to realize where they stand and how they are supposed to live their lives specifically respond to the call of time. The cultural changes that have been incurred at the changing tides of generations in Asia have specifically changed the path that the Ancient Asian ancestors lived in comparison with the contemporary generations of the region.

Apart from space, the Western culture has strongly imposed on a great deal of redefining history through the power of time. It could be understood that somehow, the process of development that the western society recognized is most often than not invigorated by time rather than by space. It is indeed easier to relatively connect history and time together which is an obvious bearing in the Asian culture[2]. Take for example the story of complexity of time in Hou Hsiao Hsien’s Three Times, a movie about contemporary individuals who are trying to survive the contemporary urban world in China. This movie has been subdivided into three subtopics or sub-focuses from where the viewers are expected to show how time changes matters between individuals and the manner by which they live their lives and make decisions that make up their growth. The years the story tackled included the social bearings of the year 1966, 1911 and 2005[3]. The separation of the years of attention intends to create a focus not only on the characters involved but on their relative correlation with their society and the culture that the people lived with. Surfacing on the elements of love, freedom and youth, this movie intends to explore on how much people respond to the environment around them and how they allow such elements to affect them personally. Seeing this aspect of the human society’s development is conceived to be somewhat effective especially when it comes to identifying important factors apart from time that makes the human society change.

In the sub-focus “the time for love”, taking the back-to-past pattern, the director intended to show two individuals falling in love regardless of their past lives. However, at the edge of the story, a relative definition on how each of them lived their lives in the past have been specifically defined as well. The plot of the film responding to this particular part of the story was rather repetitive as if pointing out that history repeats itself, a common idealism that makes an impacting definition of how humans respond to situations they have to deal with in life. Bringing along the course of change, this part of the movie defines the way from which the characters of the plot develop and yet repetitively define their path along with the past courses of living. Beyond the love story that the movie hopes to portray, this part of the film engages the viewers into a more in-depth identification on how time and the repetitive analysis of it lead the main characters into coming up with the decisions that defined them. In a way, this plot of the story presents how people seem to repeat the same mistakes over time; a reason for history to repeat itself[4]. The Asian history has been further characterized to have been based on a series of repetitive events that defined its reputation as one region in the world that has the most luscious history and yet the most common mistakes. Learning from the past is one of the benefits that time provides; however, it is only through the proper recognition of this gift that human individuals are able to evolve further.

The second part of the movie portrays the time for freedom. Still involving the essence of repetition, this part of the movie discusses what could have been but has not become because of time and social restrictions. The courtesan [who is the main character of the movie] has been seen to have developed from a younger state towards her present and a little glimpse of her future. With this pattern, the director intended how the three aspects of time [past, present and future] correlatively affect the being of a person and how one specifically decides on matters that would create a better path that the person could recognize as part of the life that he hopes to lead. Freedom, being used as a metaphor to the actual situation of the courtesan, is noted to have not been realized nor felt by the main character as she remained a prisoner to her role in society, being shunned from the outside world. It seems that in the plot, it was the desire of breaking free from the chains of social bearing that is crucial to the development and growth of the character and therefore the culture.

The third section of the movie indicates the time for youth. Here, a young rock singer was presented to have what the women from the first and second part of the movie did not have -freedom. The desire of the women in the previous parts of the movie to be free seemed like the only solution that could provide them the desires of their hearts. On the other end, living in a more contemporary Asian community, the woman in the third section of the film has been defined to have the freedom and not the path nor the consistency of decisions that could save her the tears of making bad decisions and falling in love with the wrong man. This questioning of the reality of the importance of freedom makes the viewer wonder if the idea of freedom is really all that it is made up to be. The character is not saved or even happy given all the freedom she has attained in this modern time.

Life is defined in the film as complex and chaotic. This somehow has been the primary factors that instigated a sense of chaotic pattern for the historical pattern that the Asian region has been noted to have existed along with. In the past, a series of capturing communities from all over the continent by foreign members of the community has become a common matter. This in one way is a definition of Asia’s being constructed within a particular system of control among regions. Another element that made it assumptive that the Asian region has been kept out of freedom before is that of the thriving set of traditions among the countries enjoined in the continent. Believably, for a long time, Asians followed the pattern of control that traditions and foreign elements have commenced to impose on their course of living as part of the factor that dictated their historical bearings. On the other end, at the time of the coming forth of globalization and development, the new generation has been faced with the new arena of freedom, a matter that most of the individuals who lived in the past desired that the current generation already realizes. However, the path for progress has become more chaotic than ever leaving the Asian politics as well as that of their overall economic status at a state of question; which makes it hard for most of the nations in the region to progress like that of the western countries.

Space has enabled Asian literature work become exceedingly entertaining and makes sense in the world today. This has been evidenced by Sin who has used the space, Manchuria, “to create a nationalist history that reveled in the grandeur of an ancient past”[5]. As a result of influence of time and space, several Asian literature works have been developed to engage the audience and make them desire to learn more. This is evidenced in the movie A Time for Love by Sabu. This movie is about the main character, Takagi, who wakes up in a hotel room only to realize that it is on A Time for Love while the last day he can remember was a Saturday. The mischief starts as he tries to recover his lost day, Sunday. Sabu’s Monday imposes on the idea that matters change based on the pressure that life offers humanity[6]. Herein, Takagi, the main character, was represented to be somewhat following a regular life until he finds an ordeal that involved him with the big names and the yakuza. Although the plot followed a funny or at least humorous scheme, the outcome of a pressure that has gone into Takagi made him a thoughtless murderer who knew nothing and yet had the power to conceive and put justice at work as part of his insane impulsiveness when he holds the trigger of the gun. In a satiric way, this movie intends to make a definite indication on how the Asian community may approach the different issues of history and the confusion, and chaos that change creates. Saturday is an extremely busy day for Takagi. Ha has to begin by helping operating on Mitsuo’s body before it explodes. The use of a pacemaker is to regulate Mitsuo’s body. In this case the pacemaker can be considered to be the factor that allows Mitsuo to live longer; therefore, the pacemaker can be considered be a prolonger of time in Mitsuo’s life. The pacemaker can be considered to be a facilitator of time, due to the fact that it served to allow Mitsuo to live longer by regulating her heart.

The narrator of the film is systematic in his narration. He is fairly informative in that he takes the time to explain the nature of the operation and how Takagi takes his time to organize himself prior to the operation. The narration of the operation serves to provide an illustration of how the complex procedure should not be overlook in terms of importance. The complexity of the procedure is evident based on the fact that Takagi is very nervous before performing the operation.

It is clear to every person that drunken people do strange things. The task at hand is a serious one. The person performing the surgery must be very careful otherwise the body will explode; this is something Mitsou’s family is not ready to accept. Pressure is mould as the audience fears for the worst. The narrator takes his time to take the story in a slow motion, explaining every detail and building more pressure. This makes the audience yearn to learn more. The essence of time is evident in Sabu’s film, as the narrator is chronological in explaining the procedure in a slow manner to the audience. The use of slow narration is based on making sure that the audience is willing and able to understand the process and how it is an important factor. Sabu adds the element of entertainment in the film regardless of whether the incidences in the film are tragic, as it is a strategy that serves to reduce the level of intense feelings in the film for the audience. This can be seen supporting an era “in which our sense of time is couched in spatial terms”[7].

The film advocates the Asian community becoming more leery of foreign forms of influences which change their traditional, comfortable and anticipated ways of living. However, it could be pointed out that in the process of evolving, globalization has reduced the sole concern of the region to protect its roots and its original tradition. Time and the situations that come along with it somehow taught the Asian community to face matters differently, yet it is also time that reduced this concern making it impossible for the imposition of pure tradition that is being hampered by the existence of global development that world embraces today. Asian culture is progressing with a level of prudence, fear and apprehension because it is always considering what it is losing as it gains in other ways.

This idealism has been further supported by Kiersted’s writing as he mentions that “change, the movement that history claims its own- is characterized by chaotic decisions and instability”[8]. This thought provokes the fact that as change is indeed a part of history, it also is defined as the most common matter that defines the importance of time and how it would relatively affect the occurrence of matter sin the society and how humans would respond to it. It is the course of development that humans intend to embrace that makes them more responsive to the most common changes that the entire society embraces which is evidently seen through the course of the Asian history’s development. In a way, Schmidt’swriting on the Korean history and the matters that involved them with Japan specifically points out how such evident courses of chaotic changes took place between the relationships of these nations. Historians utilized the theory of Social Darwinism as the basis of defining what has occurred in the region and how it has affected the current ways of living and the contemporary conflicts that occurs between the two nations indirectly[9].

History in itself is definite and reflective of what has happened in the past, how it affects the present and how the present would certainly affect the future. These three divisions of time as reflected in the narrations and portrayal of the films and literary pieces defined in this discussion imposes a great impact on how the society begins to recognize change and how it intends to embrace its primal effects on the human system of living. Asia, being a collection of different races and diversified communities, holds the history that defined their ancestors’ decisions that lead them to their current state of living. In consideration with the need to support the campaign for globalization and economic freedom the traditional path of living that the Asian community used to adhere to is now being retracted and reconstituted to manifest a more refined way of investing on the alliance with the west than on the protection of the original Asian culture.

References

Kiersted, T. (1993). Gardens and Estates: Medievality and Space. Positions. Duke University Press.

Reel Asian ’08 Review: Monday – Sabu (2000). http://jfilmpowwow.blogspot.com/2008/11/reel-asian-08-review-monday-sabu-2000.html. (Retrieved on November 8, 2011).

Senses of Cinema. The Complexity of Minimalism: Hou Hsiao-hsien’s Three Times. http://www.sensesofcinema.com/2006/39/three_times/. (Retrieved on November 8, 2011).

Schmidt, A. Rediscovering Manchuria: Sin Ch’aeho and the Politics of Territorial History in Korea. The Journal of Asian Studies, Vol. 56, No. 1 (Feb., 1997), pp. 26-46.

[1]Kierstad, T. (1993). Gardens and Estates: Medievality and Space. Positions. Duke University Press.

[2]Kiersted, T. (1993). Gardens and Estates: Medievality and Space. Positions. Duke University Press. (p 91)

[3]Senses of Cinema. The Complexity of Minimalism: Hou Hsiao-hsien’s Three Times. http://www.sensesofcinema.com/2006/39/three_times/. (Retrieved on November 8, 2011).

[4]Kierstad, T. (1993). Gardens and Estates: Medievality and Space. Positions. Duke University Press.

[5]Schmidt, A. Rediscovering Manchuria: Sin Ch’aeho and the Politics of Territorial History in Korea. The Journal of Asian Studies, Vol. 56, No. 1 (Feb., 1997), pp. 26-46.

[6]REEL ASIAN ’08 REVIEW: Monday – Sabu (2000). http://jfilmpowwow.blogspot.com/2008/11/reel-asian-08-review-monday-sabu-2000.html. (Retrieved on November 8, 2011).

[7]Kiersted, T. (1993). Gardens and Estates: Medievality and Space. Positions. Duke University Press.

[8]Kiersted, T. (1993). Gardens and Estates: Medievality and Space. Positions. Duke University Press.

[9]Schmidt, A. Rediscovering Manchuria: Sin Ch’aeho and the Politics of Territorial History in Korea. The Journal of Asian Studies, Vol. 56, No. 1 (Feb., 1997), pp. 26-46.

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