Saturday, 27 October 2007

A Miraculous Encounter

I think I owe God a serious gesture of gratitude for granting me an opportunity to see Fiona in person so soon.

I am simply overwhelmed with joy.

There are a number of reasons for that. For one thing, she seems to have put on some weight and her face is glowing with happiness, warmth and satisfaction. This is exactly what I have been dying to know and see.

For another, she played extraordinarily well in her first appearance in a musical. At a time when she didn't have a line, she simply spared no time to do whatever she could not to grab attention but to fulfil what her character would have done as if it ever existed in real life. While I must confess that I spent all the time following her movements on stage, there is no question that she deserves the strongest possible compliment for a tremendous job done. Bar none.

How privileged I was to be able to present her in person a bouquet of peach-coloured roses and a letter after the performance was completed. Her lovely small face lighting up with surprise and innocent excitement just seemed unforgettable. Making someone you admire happy is just a wonderful experience.

What was even more unforgettable to me was that she gave me a big hug when I congratulated her for a great performance. I never thought that such a sincere but small compliment would make her so excited. Who was I to her to deserve such a miraculous encounter like this? Since that particular moment I just felt like my favourite Jin Yong character Ren Yingying was throwing herself in my arms. Then I found myself flung into a dream that would be too good to be true.

Dear Fiona, just a quick note to thank and congratulate you for a great show. Make sure you take some good rest tonight. May I wish you every success in the performances to come.

Thursday, 25 October 2007

A Major Milestone

What a relief it was when Xavier called to tell me that renovation of my new home has been completed after three full months of work.

Finally.

I couldn't help giving a sigh of relief and satisfaction.

In general, the project worked out smoothly despite some delays and minor issues, such as the removal of the light bulb at the doorstep by mistake and the problems in identifying a vendor that accepts special orders for the picture to be craved on the frosted glass. In any case, these were inevitable anyway and I was not very much concerned.

However, the six-week delay apparently has drained my reserve of patience and I'm now more eager than ever to move in. Yet I need to plan properly for the packing and unpacking, which can only be equally annoying and time-consuming.

Hopefully my rationality is still strong enough to suppress the boiling restlessness.

Tuesday, 23 October 2007

《雪梅香》--重讀《笑傲江湖》有感

世間事,因緣迥異總傷情。念珠沉微水,池魚枉惹凶刑。算盡良謀勝當恃,到頭無計欲推枰。可憐那,蟪蛄之年,何似冥靈? 盈盈,抱殘缺,守靜虛懷,莫問崢嶸。勘破迷津,急風驟雨難驚。且自逍遙沒人管,但憑琴劍寄心聲。長相憶,竹巷綢繆,陰滿中庭。

Wednesday, 10 October 2007

Happy Birthday, Anita!

First of all, I would like to thank all those Anita's fans who have devoted time, money and hard work to organise the ongoing commemorative exhibition in Tsim Sha Tsui. It is not an extravagant exhibition, but certainly one filled with great love for and cherished memories of our Queen.

What a pity that I missed the deadline for donations. I feel somewhat ashamed enjoying the hard-earned results of those who worked on this project without any contribution.

Walking along the Promenade on a breezy autumn evening is by all means refreshing and relaxing. But it is equally heart-breaking to read the billboards of a retrospect of Anita's colourful and respectful life, knowing that I can no longer see her anywhere in this world. In the years to come, I can only cling to her legacy of songs and films that have made, and will continue to make, my life more colourful and enjoyable than it should have been.

Just a few hours before her 44th birthday, a sense of loss and hollowness took over me when I reviewed her remarkably successful career on the display boards. It reminded me of all the fond memories of her singing and dancing during my days of carefree happiness and disappointment. I expected tears running down my cheeks, but they didn't. They barely managed to wet my eyes.

While the paper models of Anita's famous characters and album covers looked perfectly glamorous in the backdrop of Hong Kong's glittering skyline at night, they only reminded me of the emptiness and sorrow following the permanent loss of her Godsend talent in entertainment and sympathy for the disadvantaged. Her kindness and integrity as a performer and a philanthropist will find no substitute.

Looking beyond the shoulders of her paper models into the Symphony of Lights across the harbour, I couldn't help giving a big sigh of sadness and frustration. The glittery visible to the eye simply can't disguise the lack of strength and substance deep inside the heart of Hong Kong.

How can I miss you less, my dear?

Just let me wish you a very Happy Birthday, Your Majesty.

P.S. Don't cry, my dear. It was my honour and pleasure to celebrate your birthday. I am flattered to have you thinking about me by giving me the good weather just now. Take care.

Tuesday, 9 October 2007

戲裡戲外--新版《笑傲江湖》觀後記(外一章)

再讀一遍《笑傲江湖》,開始有點明白,為甚麼會被一九九六年的電視改編本,迷得七葷八素。

撇開甚麼情節忠於原著、編導演俱佳的陳腔濫調不談,光是一位比原著還要可親可敬的任盈盈,已經抵得上十年八載的魂牽夢縈。這些日子以來強睜倦眼,寫下這十篇八篇自娛意義大於一切的夢囈癡語,又算得了甚麼?

戲還沒看到一半,已知編劇的仁兄仁姐定然是任大小姐的粉絲。難得有機會如此理直氣壯地假公濟私,自然出盡水磨功夫,為任大小姐搖旗吶喊,像沖哥那樣狠狠大鬧一場。瞧著螢幕上的任大小姐時而靦腆、時而溫婉、時而含嗔薄怒、時而活潑淘氣的模樣,不只是從書裡走出來一般,而是比書裡的還要可愛幾分,心花怒放之餘,心底又不免湧起一陣陣「吾道不孤」的喜慰。

多少年了,總覺得戲劇裡的任大小姐,不是面目全非,就是可有可無,大有虎落平陽之嘆。做粉絲的,除了恨得牙癢癢,又能怎地?好容易出了一位神態、性情都符合原著的,自然喜從天降,難以自抑。狂喜之情,只怕比當日令狐沖得到風清揚指點劍術時,有過之而無不及。

儘管在香港無線流水作業製作模式的荼毒下,編劇的想像力有限,沒有想出甚麼好的點子,畢竟是對任大小姐的一番心意,還是值得記述一下:

首先,任盈盈背負令狐沖到少林寺求醫,甘願囚於寺中,換取方證把《易筋經》授予令狐沖治傷。但令狐沖醒來之後,不肯加入少林,拂袖而去,方證也沒有即時把任盈盈釋放。後來任盈盈和令狐沖談起此事,仍說:「這老和尚說起來卻又是一片道理。他說留我在少室山,是盼望以佛法化去我的甚麼暴戾之氣,當真胡說八道之至。」(第二十八回〈積雪〉)

沒想到佛法無邊,戲裡居然把任盈盈開始時心浮氣躁、動輒以銀針刺死飛蛾的暴戾之氣(第二十一集),給薰陶成主動放走飛蛾的和顏悅色(第二十八集),為後來她所做的一切做好了有力的鋪墊。如果沒有這場戲,後來她那些聽了少林寺小沙彌受傷慘叫便挺身而出;見到樹上小狗受傷就觸動了惻隱之心(小狗也會爬樹?);對父親誅滅正派、血洗江湖的雄圖大計不以為然等仁善之舉,固然沾不上半點邊兒;而她那些「帶領日月神教重歸正途,按照創教之始行事」等豪言壯語(第四十三集),也就無從說起。

不過最好笑的是,任大小姐離開少林寺之前,居然向方證大師求贈佛經!要是任大小姐看到了,不知會有甚麼感受?不過方證、定閒、定逸三位佛門高德,肯定對她大增好感,心想魔教妖女頗有慧根,孺子可教;可能又想令狐沖果然慧眼識佳人,不如暗地裡助他倆一把,也是一場功德,呵呵……

第二,縱觀全劇,任盈盈始終沒有利用「三尸腦神丹」脅逼下屬,即使為了對付岳不群,用的也是假藥。從此可見那些江湖上三山五嶽的人馬,對任大小姐確是心悅誠服,並非事出無奈。

這是我最欣賞、最喜歡、最贊成的改編處。雖說任盈盈出身魔教,行事乖張狠辣,本在情理之中;但以毒藥威逼於人,卻似乎不合她的性情。既然她可以不厭其煩替群豪向東方不敗求情取藥,惻隱之心昭然可見,自己又怎會用這等下三濫的手段逼人就範?要殺便殺,倒還乾脆;強人所難,卻不見得是任大小姐那杯茶。

第三,岳靈珊被林平之刺傷,得到令狐沖和任盈盈搭救,暫保性命。令狐沖一副心思都放在小師妹身上,連任盈盈為採藥而受傷也不知道,只怒氣沖沖的怪她沒有好好守著小師妹。任盈盈眼見兩人有說有笑,岳靈珊更打斷她和令狐沖情意綿綿的練劍,逕自和大師哥同練「沖靈劍法」(!)。任盈盈心裡自是又酸又苦,忍了又忍,終於忍不下去,留書出走(第三十七至三十八集)。

這一段並非原著所有,明顯是編劇加油添醋的效果。坦白說,到現在想起來還是頭皮發麻、滿身雞皮疙瘩。總覺得這一段的情節太老套,言語太肉麻,實在有損任大小姐的高情逸態。她既然懂得「你既無心我便休」,要走就走便了,何必留下書信?信中自稱為「妾」,已是不倫不類之極--試想自負才識的李清照,當年雖則顛沛流離,身遭不幸,何曾賤稱自己為「妾」?何況任盈盈還是雲英未嫁的呀!信裡又說甚麼「岳姑娘際遇坎坷,而品性馴良,實君之良配,日後宜加善待。我倆雖屬有緣,可惜無分。君當放開懷抱,勿以為念。妾當每日祝禱,祈君多福多壽,事事逢凶化吉」云云,更是一派瓊瑤式以退為進的技倆,端的令人毛骨悚然。

若是換了別人,寫下這封書信倒是不足為奇;因為總有人覺得離去之前,沒有給對方留下片言隻語,好像欠缺了一個交代。其實,如果對方真的對自己毫無情意,又或者自己決心斷絕來往,還畫蛇添足幹嗎?那些看似撫慰、實則怨妒的言語,與其說是給對方一個交代,不如說是給自己的超渡。反正對方有情無情,聽了心裡也不好受,總算是給自己出了一口惡氣。但任大小姐是何等樣人?如此俗不可耐的行徑,又豈是矜持清逸的任大小姐所屑為?

第四,任盈盈身中東方不敗種下的「三尸腦神丹」劇毒,無藥可治,讓令狐沖表演了一下殉情,以示對她的真心(第四十三集)。

這當然又是編劇仁兄仁姐的傑作,並非原著所有。其實這也罷了,最煽情催淚的莫過於播放令狐沖回憶的片段時,配上林憶蓮哀怨纏綿的舊歌《當我眼前只有你》。曲中那蕩氣迴腸的二胡伴奏,恐怕比莫大先生的胡琴還要淒涼幾分,令人不忍卒聽。

更耐人尋味的是林憶蓮反覆詠唱的詞句:

當我眼前只有你
當你背後總有我
在路途上一雙一對
但背影相差算多不算多?

一字一淚,觸目驚心。

就算我死心眼兒好了。這幾句歌詞,明明是說自己癡心守候,對方卻始終漠然相對,教人捉摸不透。即使兩個人走在一起,仍是貌合神離。難道任盈盈和令狐沖之間,真的是這樣嗎?這到底是編導和配樂師的Freudian slip,還是疏忽大意的無心之失?

無論如何,還是那一句,總覺得這場戲煽情有餘,感人不足,落了下乘,實在可惜。不是說情理不通,只是覺得氣氛全然不對。既然編劇花了那麼多篇幅在前面鋪敘令狐沖和任盈盈的相知相守,又何必再灑狗血?莫說是跟令狐沖朝夕相對的恆山派大中小尼姑,就連粗魯無文的江湖豪傑和不問世事的少林高僧、莫大先生等都看出來了,還怕觀眾看不出來?

話雖如此,說不定有很多任大小姐的粉絲仍然感謝編劇露了這麼兩手,讓沒讀過原著的觀眾對任大小姐的同情分暴增十倍,總算是一場功德。一味以任大小姐的清雅幽遠的君子胸襟來衡量編劇的努力,也可能太不近人情了些。

事實上,編劇比金庸更早肯定令狐沖對任盈盈的情意,才是任大小姐各位粉絲最應該感恩之處。大概是在少林寺三戰之後,令狐沖在山洞裡向任盈盈說的那一番話,文字幾乎與原著一樣,但戲裡令狐沖說話的態度,與原著裡他的模棱兩可、搖擺不定,絕對不可同日而語。後來兩人為任我行療傷,全身被大雪蓋住,無意間聽到岳不群夫婦的對答,金庸只寫令狐沖如何激動如狂,於任盈盈的反應則隻字不提。但戲裡總算沒有忘掉任大小姐,讓她流露了傷心難過的神色;而看當時令狐沖的眉梢眼角,也似乎很在意任盈盈的感受,怕她難堪。此後令狐沖對待任盈盈,也似乎沒有原著中那層朦朦朧朧的隔閡,而是全心全意的信任和愛護。

平心而論,這些小節太也瑣碎,甚至很容易被人忽略,未必能改變其他人對任盈盈的誤解。但在我看來,就像是郭靖當日在江南七怪面前漲紅了臉、結結巴巴地為黃蓉辯護,說她不是小妖女一樣--即使未必幫得上甚麼忙,那份真摯的擁護之情,還是令人打從心底裡感動。

Sunday, 7 October 2007

文海隨筆--重讀《笑傲江湖》

終於一鼓作氣,又讀完了一遍《笑傲江湖》原著。

只是沒想到,竟對任盈盈別有一番體會。

任大小姐仍是我最喜愛的金庸女主角。她的豁達大度、恬淡自持,實在令人心折。令狐沖出身寒微,對權力不感興趣,只是天性使然;任盈盈自幼尊貴,早已得享權力的好處,卻能看破黑木崖上金碧輝煌的迷魂陣,寧願隱居陋巷,琴簫自娛,但求平靜安逸、逍遙自在,愈發令人肅然起敬。

古語有云:「由奢入儉難。」出身嬌貴的豪門千金,要適應平民百姓為口奔馳的日子,尚且千難萬難;更何況是被捧在雲端上受人敬拜、權操生死的任大小姐?

不過,總覺得金庸寫任盈盈,筆法撲朔迷離,矛盾甚多。以前沒有深思箇中因由,只道金庸不太懂得女兒家的心事。如今重讀不知第幾遍,這種感受更是強烈,甚至覺得金庸對任盈盈的心情,就像令狐沖那樣搖擺不定,到結局還是無法讓人看得真切。也許,他的心情就像「獨孤九劍」的要旨那樣,一切皆視乎對方的反應而定,自己心底是甚麼想法,卻是模棱兩可。否則的話,這些年來也不會有那麼多讀者,為了令狐沖有沒有真心愛上任盈盈而爭辯不休。

我無意再趕這淌渾水,因為這個問題,恐怕連令狐沖和金庸自己也答不上來。旁人吵得再起勁,也只是不著邊際的臆測而已。

記得少年時初讀原著,曾經一廂情願地認為令狐沖對任盈盈的感情,不只是感恩圖報那麼簡單。即使任盈盈在他心目中的地位未必比得上岳靈珊,兩人畢竟也共過患難,而且任盈盈是世上少有真正理解他、信任他、尊重他的人。他和任盈盈之間的默契和親暱,其實遠在岳靈珊之上。

不過,這次重讀原著,就發覺金庸在令狐沖對任盈盈的隔閡方面著墨甚重,頗覺不是味兒。又想起有不少男讀者都說任盈盈機關算盡,把令狐沖玩弄於股掌之間,更忍不住喟然長嘆。

書中三番四次地強調,令狐沖對於任盈盈,始終帶著三分畏懼。即使他和任盈盈經歷了五霸岡聚會、少林寺治傷、少林寺三戰賭約,他仍覺得眼前的女子可望而不可即。

隨手抄了幾段原著印證如下(附註冊數及頁碼以香港明河社於一九八四年出版的修訂本為準):

第十七回〈傾心〉:「令狐沖心下駭然:『這婆婆單憑一句話,便將他們發配去東海荒島,一輩子不許回來。這些人反而歡天喜地,如得大赦,可真教人不懂了。』他默不作聲的行走,心頭思潮起伏,只覺身後跟隨著的那位婆婆實是生平從所未聞的怪人,思忖:『只盼一路前去,別再遇見五霸岡上的朋友。他們一番熱心,為治我的病而來,倘若給婆婆撞見了,不是刺瞎雙目,便得罰去荒島充軍,豈不冤枉?這樣看來,黃島主、祖千要我說從來沒見過他們,五霸岡上群豪片刻間散得乾乾淨淨,都是因為怕了這婆婆。她……她到底是怎麼一個可怖的大魔頭?』想到此處,不由自主的連打兩個寒噤。」(第二冊,頁706)

第二十五回〈聞訊〉:「莫大先生這麼一笑,令狐沖登時滿臉通紅,情知他這番話不錯,但群豪服了自己,只不過是在瞧在盈盈的面上,而盈盈日後知道,一定要大發脾氣,突然間心念一動:『盈盈對我情意深重,可是她臉皮子薄,最怕旁人笑話於她,說她對我落花有意,而我卻流水無情。我要報答她這番厚意,務須教江湖上好漢眾口紛傳,說道令狐沖對任大小姐一往情深,為了她性命也不要了。我須孤身去闖少林,能救得出她來,那是最好,倘若救不出,也要鬧得眾所周知。』」(第三冊,頁1053)

第二十六回〈圍寺〉:「令狐沖道:『是誰當盟主,那是小事一件,只須救得聖姑出來,在下便是粉身碎骨,也所甘願。』這幾句話倒不是隨口胡謅,他感激盈盈為己捨身,若要他為盈盈而死,那是一往無前,決不用想上一想。不過如在平日,這念頭在自己心頭思量也就是了,不用向人宣之於口,此刻卻要拚命顯得多情多義,好叫旁人不去笑話盈盈。」(第三冊,頁1059)

第二十八回〈積雪〉:「盈盈柔聲道:『你為甚麼嘆氣?你後悔識得我嗎?』令狐沖道:『沒有,沒有!我怎會後悔?你為了我,寧肯把性命送在少林寺裡,我以後粉身碎骨,也報不了你的大恩。』盈盈凝視他雙目,道:『你為甚麼說這等話?你直到現下,心中還是在將我當作外人。』令狐沖內心一陣慚愧,在他心中,確然總是對她有一層隔膜,說道:『是我說錯了,自今而後,我要死心塌地的對你好。』這句話一出口,不禁想到:『小師妹呢?小師妹?難道我從此忘了小師妹?』盈盈眼光中閃出喜悅的光芒,道:『沖哥,你這是真心話呢,還是哄我?』令狐沖當此之時,再也不自計及對岳靈珊銘心刻骨的相思,全心全意的道:『我若是哄你,教我天打雷劈,不得好死。』」(第三冊,頁1156)

第三十回〈密議〉:「賈布手持一對判官筆,和盈盈手中一長一短的雙劍鬥得甚緊。令狐沖和盈盈交往,初時是聞其聲而不見其人,隨後是見其威懾群豪而不知其所由,感其深情而不知其所蹤。當日她手殺少林弟子,力鬥方生大師,令狐沖也只是見其影而不見其形,直至此刻,才初次正面見到她和人相鬥。但見她身形輕靈,倏來倏往,劍招攻人,出手詭奇,長短劍或虛或實,極盡飄忽,雖然一個實實在在的人便在眼前,令狐沖心中,仍是覺得飄飄緲緲,如煙如霧。」(第三冊,頁1245)

反覆看了這幾段,還有最後一回〈曲諧〉中,任盈盈笑靨如花,令狐沖卻愀然不樂的對比,實在忍不住再三嘆息。難怪那些不相信任盈盈的傢伙,都說她巧施妙計,把令狐沖「收服」得燙燙貼貼。看〈曲諧〉裡任盈盈像勝利者一般的笑容,誰也免不了暗忖,令狐沖就是她「主動出擊,運籌帷幄」的成果。

這明顯是金庸故意營造的錯覺。他在《笑傲江湖》的後記裡也寫得清楚明白:「令狐沖當情意緊纏住岳靈珊身上之時,是不得自由的。只有到了青紗外的大路上,他和盈盈同處大車之中,對岳靈珊的癡情終於消失了,他才得到心靈上的解脫。本書結束時,盈盈伸手扣住令狐沖的手腕,嘆道:『想不到我任盈盈竟也終身和一隻大馬猴鎖在一起,再也不分開了。』盈盈的愛情得到圓滿,她是心滿意足的,令狐沖的自由卻又被鎖住了。或許,只有在儀琳的片面愛情之中,他的個性才極少受到拘束。」

真是豈有此理。任盈盈是世上唯一真正懂得和尊重令狐沖心意的人,怎會不明白他喜歡無拘無束、逍遙自在?任我行重出江湖後,三番四次強邀令狐沖加入日月神教,任盈盈貴為教主女兒、神教聖姑,何曾勸過令狐沖半句?少林寺中,令狐沖和岳不群比劍只守不攻,任我行要女兒站到另一邊提醒令狐沖,她卻紋絲不動,深信「兩情相悅,貴乎自然」,令狐沖要是顧慮到她,自然會設法取勝,不願徒增他的壓力。封禪臺上,任盈盈把令狐沖和岳靈珊比劍時的情意綿綿、失魂落魄都看在眼裡,卻始終不動聲色。在華山天琴峽,她跳進牆裡給令狐沖打開岳靈珊住處的門閂,又悄沒聲息的掩上房門,讓令狐沖獨自在小師妹的閨房裡痛哭悼亡。這樣玲瓏慧黠、進退有度的女子,怎會鎖住令狐沖的自由?如果說令狐沖只有在儀琳面前,才受到極少拘束,那豈不是說,兩情相悅、與別人有感情交流,本身就是一種束縛?既然如此,天生不喜拘束的令狐沖,又何必苦戀岳靈珊,和那麼多師兄弟和江湖豪傑生死相許,自尋煩惱?

說穿了,無論金庸也好,令狐沖也好,甚至那些說任盈盈對令狐沖欲擒故縱的人,在任盈盈的豁達從容面前,都顯得十二分渺小自卑。令狐沖對任盈盈那些令人氣惱的畏懼,可能就是金庸自己的寫照。內心深處,也許令狐沖壓根兒不相信單憑片言隻語就足以置人於死地的魔教聖姑,居然對自己這個無名無利的華山棄徒深情如斯。他甚至可能誤以為任盈盈主動示愛,背後隱藏著甚麼不可告人的陰謀。只有在恆山懸空寺靈龜閣一役,令狐沖見任盈盈明知毒水腐肌化骨,也毫不猶豫地擋在他身前,他才真正相信,任大小姐的確是真心真意愛上了他這個「胡鬧任性,輕浮好酒」的無行浪子。

說到這裡,又忍不住投訴金庸的大男人主義迂腐透頂,俗不可耐。如果相愛貴乎自然、貴乎真誠,何必理會雙方身分高低、誰是主動誰是被動?為甚麼貴為蒙古郡主而工於心計的趙敏,一旦「棄暗投明」就贏得那麼多男讀者的垂青,但胸襟廣闊、光風霽月的任大小姐,對令狐沖一直尊重愛惜,卻招來那麼多齷齪無理的污蔑?

我真的不明白。

突然記起,那些認為令狐沖沒有愛上任盈盈的讀者,都喜歡把任盈盈比作《紅樓夢》的薛寶釵,說她始終得不到令狐沖的心,「縱然是齊眉舉案,到底意難平」云云。

然而,真正意難平的,大概只是那些在任盈盈的磊落胸懷之前,顯得自卑渺小、心胸狹隘、無地自容的傢伙,而不是任盈盈。

Saturday, 6 October 2007

Preoccupation And Repression

Not surprisingly, the screening of Director Ang Lee's award-winning Lust, Caution has stirred up another round of fuss among many people in Hong Kong. It has been quite some time since any other film received the same level of recognition among the local audience.

Again, there is now a compelling reason for everyone to spare more than two-and-a-half hours in the cinema. Admitting that you haven't watched an extremely popular film like your friends and colleagues did is by no means noble. The incapability of engaging in a conversation about the plot, the characters or, more importantly, the sex scenes in the case of Lust, Caution, is deemed to be unbearably embarrassing. Interestingly, most of us in Hong Kong are taught to believe that we shall never become a laughing stock just by being different - something that is not acceptable and subject to contempt and disgrace.

Highlighting the eyebrow-raising sex scenes in the promotion campaign was obviously a deliberate effort to arouse attention to highest possible limit. This tactic is proved to be particularly effective for the local audience who is generally addicted to the excitement of voyeurism.

Few in Hong Kong have read Eileen Chang's masterpieces, let alone being a fan of hers. But it takes nothing to appreciate sensual pleasure, be it real or hyper-real on the silver screen.

How sad it is to spend too much time and effort focusing on the sex scenes, which were designed to deliver a message rather than being a message by themselves. Too many commentators, including those Christian fundamentalists who called for a boycott of the film because of the episode that takes up no more than one-tenth of the length of the film, seem to have lost sight of the full picture.

People who are blinded by prejudice think the others are blind as they are. People who are preoccupied by sex find sexual references in everything they see. As the Buddhist teaching says, "Wind doesn't move anything but it's your heart that makes you see things move." As we can see in communication theories, perception is often a self-imposed belief or even indulgence rather than something of objective existence.

Actually, to my own surprise, the sex scenes were the most natural and the least embarrassing I have ever seen, even though the actor and the actress were nude. I found something in the atmosphere that was much more powerful and breath-taking than what the couple was doing -  repression.

It was repression of love, repression of desire, and repression of conscience. It was a story with a motif that has been tirelessly explored and vividly depicted by Director Lee throughout these years.

Like many other characters portrayed by Director Lee in his previous works, both Wang Chia-chi and Mr Yee were victims of repression. Their subtle movements and facial expressions, and sometimes even their expressionless faces, had so much more to tell than the words they muttered.

In the setting of a war-torn China, repression seemed to be the only means of survival and deterrent to overwhelming fear. Just look at the faceless crowds on the streets of Shanghai in the film. Be they Chinese, Japanese or Europeans. There was little difference, if any at all, between sexes and nationalities before fear and repression.

Coincidently, repression is also a common theme in Eileen Chang's literary works, though it is often disguised skilfully in torture, absurdity and indifference. Perhaps this is one of the reasons why Director Lee is, in my opinion, the most successful and truthful presenter of Eileen Chang's fiction in the format of film. He obviously has an insightful understanding of Eileen Chang's work as if she had told him what she wanted to deliver between the lines. What is even more important is his unmatched mastery of script, cinematography, music, props and any other component to the finest detail. What I found most impressive was the extravagant re-construction of the streets of Hong Kong and Shanghai during the 1940s. It was certainly extraordinary but indispensable in setting up the right context and atmosphere. This is particularly important in representing the fiction of Eileen Chang, who herself devoted a lot of ink in such trivial details of food, clothing and accessories of the characters. Comparing to his counterparts in Hong Kong or Mainland China, Director Lee apparently has a much stronger grasp of the "soul" of Eileen Chang's works.

Director Lee should find all his hard work and daunting efforts paid off when Lust, Caution is so far the most acclaimed adopted film of Eileen Chang's novels. As far as I can remember, he is the only person who is widely recognised by Eileen Chang's fans as a truthful and successful presenter of her works. No other director, despite their efforts and reputation, has ever received unanimous commendation as Director Lee does.

This is certainly a piece of good news for Eileen Chang's fans. For the first time in history, we now have the first glimpse of hope of having a pair of truly good hands to introduce one of the greatest modern Chinese writers to non-Chinese readers through cinema.