In the Scene: Ang Lee
Introductory Guides to Contemporary Filmmakers
by Ellen Cheshire
- Part of our new series of accessible introductory guides to significant contemporary filmmakers.
- Commercial, critical and award (Oscars, Golden Globes) success of Ang Lee’s films has made him an international name.
- A must for film fans and students
- An introductory chapter highlights thematic and visual devices, followed by an exploration of all Lee’s films, from Pushing Hands (1992) to The Gemini Man (2019 US).
Ang Lee came to the fore in the 1990s as one of the ‘second wave’ of Taiwanese directors. After studying at New York University, Lee returned to Taiwan where over the next three consecutive years he directed three comedy-dramas focusing on aspects of the East vs. West culture and its impact on the family – Pushing Hands, The Wedding Banquet, Eat Drink Man Woman. Considering Lee’s background it is surprising that he should be approached to direct the most British of novels, Jane Austen’s Sense And Sensibility. It was a tremendous critical and commercial success. Since then Lee’s projects have been both eclectic and striking – he took on the American suburbs of the 1970s and the war-torn American South of the 1860s in The Ice Storm and Ride With The Devil. But it was his triumphant return to the East with Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon which has transformed him into an internationally successful director.
He followed this with his somewhat flawed foray into the Marvel Universe with Hulk. His heartbreaking adaptation of Annie Proulx’s short story Brokeback Mountain brought him international critical and commercial success. But forever the genre and language-hopping director, Lee’s next films were much smaller in scale and reach – Lust, Caution (a Chinese erotic espionage thriller) and Taking Woodstock (American comedy-drama). His most recent film was an adaptation of Yann Martel’s The Life of Pi pushed the boundaries of CGI animation and showed how a director with great visual flair could enhance a film with 3D. His continual desire for embracing new technology divided critics and audiences for Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk, an adaptation of Ben Fountain’s 2012 Iraq-war set novel, and we await publication to include The Gemini Man with Will Smith.
About the author
Ellen Cheshire has a BA (Hons) in Film and English and a MA in Gothic Studies and has taught Film at Undergraduate and A Level. She has published books on Bio-Pics, Audrey Hepburn and The Coen Brothers and contributed chapters to books on James Bond, Charlie Chaplin, Global Film-making, Film Form, Fantasy Films and War Movies. She is also one of a team of four writers for the new A Level WJEC Film Text Book published in 2018. For us, she has written In the Scene: Jane Campion and In the Scene: Ang Lee, and contributed to Silent Women: Pioneers of Cinema eds. Melody Bridges and Cheryl Robson (voted best book on Silent Film 2016) and Counterculture UK: a celebration eds. Rebecca Gillieron and Cheryl Robson.