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從《幸福路上》談自我追尋之路

動畫電影《幸福路上》在2018年1月上映。這部動畫從個人敘事帶入巨觀歷史變化,讓人深思人生的選擇,又照見台灣的發展軌跡,因此有人稱為「台灣動畫電影的里程碑」。

一部以六年級生出發的敘事,橫跨台灣近30年歷史,劇情舉重若輕、以小喻大,化身為幾代人的國族寓言,不同世代會看到不一樣的切面。當五、六、七年級面對不同史實,例如蔣中正過世當天、禁說台語、聯考等,感受和想像如何不同?跨世代又如何拼湊那些被遺忘的記憶,彼此理解? (此為2018年1月10日,由左岸文化、衛城出版、八旗文化共同舉辦的講座摘錄,授權《報導者》刊登。)

主持人:黃秀如/左岸文化總編輯

與談人:(依姓名筆劃順序) 朱宥勳/小說家、專欄作家,《學校裡面不敢教的小說》作者 李雪莉/《報導者》總編輯,《血淚漁場》作者 林立青/《做工的人》作者 吳介民/中研院社會所副研究員、《第三種中國想像》作者 陳翠蓮/台大歷史系教授、《重構二二八》作者

主持人黃秀如:
這場論壇的第一輪,請每一位主講者5分鐘到8分鐘,討論你為什麼想看這部電影?跟你的關係是什麼?你為什麼被感動或被打到?那個點是什麼?每個人因為出身背景不同,都會有不同故事。請陳翠蓮老師。
陳翠蓮:
我常聽朋友講說,台灣都不關心歷史跟文化,沒有人用台灣歷史進行創作,或是製作戲劇。現在來了一個這樣的動畫作品,導演的企圖很大,可能不只是我看到的那樣,但我看到的是十足一個政治的動畫,衝著它是台灣第一個政治動畫,衝著這點大家就應該去看。
六年級生的導演宋欣穎,她出生的日期是總統蔣公過世那一天,我看到的內容,她的成長過程,小學,到中學,考高中,竟然跟我都一樣,但我們差了十幾歲。她一開始,爸爸說要當哲學家要餓死,我小時候說我要當畫家,我爸也會說,你這是要餓死嗎。
我 11月24日 生,大家知道是什麼日子嗎?我從教科書裡面看到,中國國民黨前身是興中會,教科書告訴我,這是中華族偉大復興的起點,我發現我是這一天生的耶,有一種上帝選民的感覺,我跟偉大的政黨同一天生。在當時的教育之下,灌輸我們這樣的想法。
小琪為了要讀文組,家庭革命,那個時代很多人都是這樣,被爸媽期待的第一志願,那時候我說要念政治系,我媽嚇死,會不會變成政治犯,這些成長過程大概都一樣,包括他在學校裡面讀的課本,我的時代更早,社會控制更嚴厲,不只有在課本中看到蔣公看小魚往上游,我的是小學一年級,早上朝會是反共復國歌,我念台北周邊樹林地區的國小,小學一年級的小朋友要唱「反共、反共、反共大陸去」(唱歌)。
我們上課提到總統或國父,就要坐正,這是更早一個世代五年級生的規訓更強烈,到了六年級生還是一樣,看了還是很有同感。包括裡面對於學了國語之後,學了「高級文化」之後,對爸媽在家裡講的「低級語言」的嘲笑。小時候已經可以講比較標準的國語,會被派去演講比賽,就會沾沾自喜,人家說「陳翠蓮你一定是外省人」,就沾沾自喜,有血統清洗的感覺。
我有四年級生的朋友也說,這個電影講的就是她的成長過程,四、五、六甚至到七年級,大家的成長過程竟然都沒有太大的變化。從電影看到,台灣社會從戒嚴到解嚴,其實沒有太大變化。我的小孩前幾年念高中,國文選文的內容,竟然跟我高中讀的差不多都一樣,其實很恐怖。
所以這樣的電影,它在談的事情,不是只有某個世代的問題,它在談論台灣整個社會的問題,是跨世代的動畫。宮崎駿的動畫,老少咸宜,不同年紀的人會中間看到不一樣的東西,這部動畫也是。年輕的各位帶爸媽去看,爸媽看到的跟你看到的絕對是不同面向。
因為我自己讀政治,從這部片我關心的,大致上都是政治的面向,所以我會覺得它是政治動畫。這部動畫的一個重點是台灣的社會跟國家長期以來,把土地上的人,非主體化,或者異化的過程。
教育的重點本來應該是教人自我探索、啟發與追尋,但我們看到的教育,不是要讓學生思考我是誰?我們是誰?我們是怎樣的人?我要成為怎樣的大人?從來不教這些,到現在還是這樣。
統治者有一套想法,把教育當成達成他目標的工具。大眾有大眾因應的方式,我們把教育當成賺錢工具,教育被異化,是謀生工具,讀書只是為了找到好工作,現在為止也還是這樣。要求大學文科縮減,因為出來找不到工作,醫生才是第一志願。這恐怕全世界沒有像我們這樣的。教育被異化,人不是主體。
例如,動畫裡面開始對自己、對我族有興趣的人(阿文哥哥),開始去進行島嶼身世的探索,卻變成統治者的敵人、被逮捕,動畫中諷刺台灣是一個「不讀書王國」,在這個王國裡面,阿文哥哥這一個去讀書的人,就會變成統治者的眼中釘。我們要成為怎樣的國家?台灣要成為怎樣的理想的國家?這也不是台灣當局關注的重點。所以電影中很重要的部分是在講,大家都想去美國、當美國人,確實如此,我小時候到高中,台灣處境最危險時,家境好的同學就選擇移民,逃離這個地方,當美國人、加拿大人、澳洲人、南非人,都有。
台灣是一個漂流之島。我看到最傷心的是阿文哥哥後來也到美國去了。有經濟能力的逃離它(台灣),這似乎是台灣長期以來的命運,是一個悲情的城市。過去是去美國,現在可能有別的目標,這是我看到的。
這樣的情況下,社會大眾對台灣這個生存環境能有什麼期待?有什麼夢想?好像有點困難,雖然有很多努力生活的人,兢兢業業,但到底什麼是幸福?最後就會歸結到,阿嬤說的「能有飯吃就是幸福」,變成社會的惡性循環,看起來好像是悲觀的。但整個電影裡面,主角小琪是在挑戰這樣的現象,她有很多的質疑。
吳介民:
我人生有一段時間是屬於下層階級流浪生活,我沒有住過新莊,但我住過三重;新莊、三重,整片都是小工廠。
我是五年級的頭,那年代,三重、新莊、蘆洲跟今天完全不一樣。我沒有住在幸福路上,但對於《幸福路上》看到的景色跟世界是很熟悉的。雖然我的年紀比小琪再年長一個世代,但這部電影有神奇的魔力,讓像我這樣的典型觀眾陷入思考,思考我到底為什麼坐在這裡,片中一些元素跟我成長背景這麼接近,所以常常會跳接到我自己的生長年代。
小琪家裡就是做工的人,做工的人社會流動只有兩條路,今天這兩條路也變窄了,但當時還是有可能的,一條是自己階級內努力,黑手變頭家,電影裡面也看到一個角色,有人說不能爆雷,但還是要報一下,就是聖恩。他後來去開機車店,存了錢,買了一個家,但買到九二一大地震的房子,倒塌就被壓死了。他的階級慢慢往上流動,爬成小老闆。努力工作5年,可能就有頭期款可以付新莊「博士的家」公寓大樓(的頭期款),但現在不可能了。往下流動是另外一回事,就先不用講。
另外一個就是靠聯考,希望子女這一代,讓家境改善。所以小琪爸媽希望她讀什麼?這個故事我們都很耳熟能詳了,就是考醫科。小琪考上什麼學校鄰居來道賀?北一女嘛。還沒考上台大,才考上北一女,就已經來放鞭炮了。我看了很感動,但也有點出神,連接到我自己生命的歷程。所以這部片給我的第一個吸睛到心靈的,它會讓我想問題。好萊塢電影是不會讓你想問題的,他只會催淚。但真正好的藝術作品包括文學,是會讓你想問題的。
Fill 1
《幸福路上》劇照。
《幸福路上》劇照。
這部影片,我們這次座談有個介紹文字,這是從國族嗎?還是從政治面向做比較多的詮釋?對我個人來說太重口味了。但如果只是看成成長史,只是導演個人生命故事,又太窄了,所以我比較中間折衷的觀看是,它至少做到一件事,讓我們重溫一段台灣典型的歷史。這是各位父母經歷過的,是兩代人的故事。當然裡面有三個世代,阿嬤那一個世代是比較背景的、比較抽象在處理。
這部電影的故事,從我自己的研究觀點出發,我是一個社會學者,它談的是一段台灣「經濟起飛後期」的故事,不是前期喔。
台灣有30年快速經濟成長,速度跟今天中國是一樣的,每年接近10% 經濟成長率。我們台灣有過這個時代,大概從 1960 到 1980 年代末。小琪是1975 年生的,所以小琪生的年代就是經濟起飛的後期。
我們現在的時間點是「後經濟起飛」的年代。經濟起飛後期的15年是什麼概念呢,前期機會更好的,夠努力運氣夠好的人,在那個階段已經獲得很好的社會地位的提升,賺錢,致富,早就黑手變頭家。但是,當經濟成長飽和,到經濟起飛後期,這個階段機會變少,競爭更激烈,所以人跟人的競爭狀態跟社會結構矛盾會比較厲害。如同對面的中國,現在的社會矛盾的累積,又比二、三十年更多了。
片子的社會空間是那個年代,小琪跟同伴度過那個年代,他們玩在一起,都被老師罰站,又因為他們沒有補習,老師兼補習班,這個真的是⋯⋯我的老師就是這樣,沒有補習就不知道考試題目,成績就不會好。裡面我看到真的是太有趣了,聖恩的爸爸在養鴿子,那年代台灣迷賽鴿,是賭博也是致富(或敗亡)的途徑。我小時候也養過鴿子,但我養一養就放走了,成不了氣候。
這部電影,我覺得有一個很強烈的階級觀點,這在台灣電影也是少見的,台灣文學一向都有(階級觀點),越來越多,但電影有階級觀點的不多。所以我覺得它是一部關於社會流動的寓言,這完全屬於台灣,真的非常台灣,影像細節跟故事都很台灣。有一股濃濃的大台北衛星城市中下階級的鄉土味。
小琪的阿嬤是阿美族,阿嬤跟小琪的關係,至少雙重角色,有時候小琪心情不好,就來幫她作法,有一次還幫她畫紋面,給她作法,給她療癒。另外一個就是精神導師。阿嬤好幾次說,人家吃得飽就很幸福,會煮飯就好,飯煮得好就好啦。小琪跟他爸媽討論回來台灣與否,小琪講了一句話,「我什麼都不會」,阿嬤就說會煮飯就好啦,吃得飽就幸福了。這句話其實其他角色也有說出來,他是不是表現一種台灣人底層,很幽默在認命,是下層生活的哲學?還是某種台灣人對台灣人自己的刻板印象?是不是這樣,我覺得這可以好好想一想。
小琪最後決定回到台灣,回到父母身邊,我看到一個事情是,它跟另外一個文學作品的對比,各位看過陳映真的〈夜行貨車〉嗎?男女主角受盡折磨決定回鄉,但不是回鄉一切事情就解決了。小琪回到台灣,怎麼重新跟爸媽在一起,問題才開始。爸媽越來越老,小琪已經四十歲出頭,她要開始面對爸媽老年化的問題,「長照」的問題,都是跟這個世代息息相關的問題。
李雪莉:
剛剛兩位老師都分享蠻多的,進入深入的文本分析,這(爆雷)是我最怕的。我這裡就來談談我怎麼看這部片?我看片的時候,我就覺得自己很像小琪,雖然我不住在衛星城市,我想很多人都一樣,不是富有的人,但我們小時住在台北。
六年級有很多尷尬,對我來說,第一點,這是第一部拍出六年級心聲的電影。六年級沒有趕上像五年級學運世代狂飆的年代,你們的同學都掌權啊(望向旁邊的吳介民),而你在的中研院也是一種權啊(玩笑話 ,全場笑)。我們六年級也不是七年級之後的網路原生世代,對不對?所以他們根本沒有我們這代的負擔。
1975年出生的我們,我還記得解嚴那天我爸跟我說,「我們終於可以好好說話了」。所以我經歷了13年沒有辦法好好說話的(日子),警察會來盤查戶口,千萬不要亂講話。
過去台灣有很多電影,例如《女朋友男朋友》,它的政治敍事是很男性剛性,雖然拍出野百合學運,但是男性觀點;《幸福路上》除了是第一部我覺得說出六年級心聲的故事之外,第二點,我覺得它是一個女性觀點的電影。楊德昌的《青梅竹馬》、《牯嶺街少年殺人事件》,有一點隱喻那個時代的政治,但沒有明說。張艾嘉的《20 30 40》有女性觀點,但沒有政治寓言。
所以這部是女性觀點,很強調關係取向,但我不要再爆更多雷了。
小琪跟阿嬤的關係,跟朋友的關係,跟同理心,甚至它在講外省老兵跟爸爸之間,彼此敦厚的鄰居關係,看起來非常小的點,都是一種敦厚,是一種女性關懷。我在這部片裡面,看到跟過去英雄主義式的敘事是很不一樣的。有些人看過片子很失望,是因為沒有這種大場景,太戲劇性的,所以覺得娛樂性不高。但這難得是台灣可以從一個女性觀點,連配角都很立體的,展現一種對人的溫柔。
第三點,動畫做為藝術的表演形式,在台灣,過去都是代工,幫日本、美國代工,但從來沒有一次我們說自己的故事,除了《魔法阿嬤》等少數例外。這種30年複雜的故事又是動畫形式,如果大家看過今敏導演的《千年女優》,那是以穿越今昔來表現的故事。
我臉書上有個導演說,《幸福路上》這部片如果是用真人拍攝,一定破億。但如果真的由真人拍攝會有多昂貴?台灣目前文化產業被中國壓著跑的狀況下,在目前的預算下,可以做出這樣的作品已經很難得,所以是一個里程碑。它做為藝術的形式,有很深刻的價值,目前的票房,我自己是覺得有點擔心,因為事實上它有歷史重要的意義。
此外,1975出生的我們,習慣的是一種大的,全景式的幸福敘事,習慣的是「大寫」的,幸福是架構在「國家」的,打破萬惡共產黨就會幸福。但當這些都打破時,台灣慢慢進入多元混亂,開始追求「小寫」的幸福,但這種小寫的幸福,跟四、五年級相比,不再是有勞動就有經濟成長,我們後青春期其實經濟是吊車尾。
沒有固定的軌跡時,我們開始思考到底活著是為什麼?小寫的幸福,我們還在追求,但為什麼小寫的幸福追求起來這麼困難呢?我在台大上課,這2年最後一堂課總發現有學生非常困惑。
這部片就我所知也打動很多七、八年級生,尤其是文組的學生,因為他們遭遇工作機會困難,這是很嚴重的問題。此外,很重要的一點是,七、八年級相信,我們有一個多元的台灣存在,多元的價值要開展,但過去三十年開展的緩慢或說不如他們期待,有些甚至被打回原型,例如技職教育。所以從企業到政府,越來越強調單一價值,你看勞基法被修成這樣,已經無法理解了。所以這部片對四、五年級是記憶召喚,說出六年級的生命故事,對七、八年級來說,他們會對於還沒有落實的台灣多元面向感到困惑。這是我印象深刻的。
林立青:
前面的人都大有來頭,我壓力很大,把國族跟意識都講完了。我是今天下午帶我媽去看,那就是小琪媽媽的原型,就是那樣的人,看完片子,我媽叫我快點結婚(全場笑),說你看人家多幸福。我媽說,媽媽愛你,你也生一個吧(全場笑)。所以這部片很適合帶家人去看,這種是好的情緒勒索,跟家人有一點互動跟討論。
我跟我媽一走出電影院,她說前面像是三洋維士比,後面像是保力達B。我們勞工階級會拿來比較的是廣告,因為我們是這兩年,開始成為作家之後,會有人叫你去看電影,不然以前是一年看一部電影,是全家一起去的,是很慎重的。如果你只是消耗一個形體,白馬馬力夯,「不讓你睡」(註:白馬馬力夯的廣告台詞),是最基本的。好一點的會出現真實人物,像三洋維士比,一群人走出來,明星出來結束。但有一種影像是更深層的,保力達B,一定是吳念真每一年針對不同勞工族群跟議題,推出的賀歲片,它的畫面會很纖細,我們這些人就會開始聊,我的臉書就會開始洗版說,啊這(廣告)是在我家附近拍的,分享數量可以達到五、六千,因為喚起了某些共同的印象跟回憶。
女主角小琪,聖恩,她們幾個分別代表了不同的傾向跟方式。階級流動,老師剛剛說創業,第二種就是讀書考試變公務員,軍公教。另外一種,片裡面拍出來了,更古老,就是結婚,它把這三種拍出來了。三個人物有不同的樣子,聖恩變成機車行老闆。在我的價值觀裡面,我變成北一女的朋友好像就再也沒有聯絡過了,到現在還是找不到當時考上北一女的朋友。
我們再來看,把片花抓出來,阿嬤樂天知命,有飯吃就好,到了爸媽,幸福定義不同了,他希望小琪比他有成就,考上北一女有期待。奶奶那一代認為爸爸已經超過(他們的成就),爸媽也認為小琪也超過他們的成就。但我這幾個月才發現,考上北一女的不一定飛黃騰達,看這部片也會發現,他人生還是有徬徨,衝撞體制之後還是不知道自己要幹嘛。
像我這樣的人我也不知道我要幹嘛,但我比較幸福一點的是,我卡在兩代之間,我媽跟我,面對小琪這樣的人物,眼界越高之後好像越困難,越徬徨,她去過國外了,在那裡有工作有丈夫了,我們不斷施壓壓力在這群人身上。我們再看,我這一代也不斷被投射這樣的壓力,我一天到晚在被投射奇怪的壓力或幻想,不管是我媽還是身邊的人。
這部片企圖心很大,台灣的動畫如果要好看,就是劇情要夠好,讓人感動。它盡量把奶奶的原住民血統納入,吃檳榔,這會有文化衝擊。爸爸那一代也有自己的問題,爸爸腳受傷時,我跟我媽一邊看電影一邊哧哧喳喳(註:小聲討論),我說他一定會辭職,我媽說台灣壞老闆都這樣。他是真的要退休還是被逼退休?小琪面對父親這樣時,是有隔閡的,爸爸沒有想讓他們知道。他們會撿資源回收這一點,我很有感觸,我在工地學到哪些金屬材料回收比較可以換錢。我一直都是勞工階級,連進這種地方(咖啡店)都不會來,目前還在學習怎麼進這種地方。
導演已經把國族問題講出來了,是可以從片花一點點抓出來討論的片。裡面有一幕,爸爸說他要出生時(遇到蔣公過世),我媽說那個年代都要跪,國小的時候跪一排,蔣公死亡嘛,我的記憶是死掉就死掉嘛,我媽的記憶是她十歲要跪在那邊,還要取消畢業旅行,結果高中的時候輪到小蔣死掉,又取消一次畢業旅行(全場笑)。
現在有沒有可能黑手變頭家,舊有觀念還在不在?我們現在可以在電影裡面公開討論原住民議題,甚至拍出東南亞主義的問題在裡面,我就不要再爆雷了。我的重點是,希望大家帶家人一起看,也可以帶著《做工的人》一起看。
朱宥勳:
我是 1988 年1月生的。去年有單位想要辦戒嚴記憶的老中青三代,來找我,我說我的戒嚴記憶是睡在醫院的保溫箱。我是研究小說跟文學,所以我有個職業病是確定時間點。
小琪生於 1975 年,所以解嚴時剛好上國中,大概現在四十歲。(李雪莉:四十二歲)(全場笑)。第一個,他的象徵意義,片裡面很用力強調出生那一天就是老蔣掛掉。這一代的台灣,在思考幸福跟要過什麼生活時,是要從偉人之死開始的,他死之前是不用想的。他死了之後,再過十二年,上到中學,那之前非常天真可愛,以那時做為分水嶺,變成會困惑的小琪,這跟解嚴是同步開始的。
台灣在20世紀有兩個歷史時刻,第一個是 1945 年日本殖民轉換到國民政府,第二個就是解嚴,重新思考台灣人是什麼樣子?我們要去哪裡?我不知道導演拍片時有沒有參考什麼,但我覺得這是一個精準有趣的設定。
現在四十多歲這一代,從各項社會議題來看,是大分水線,例如同婚,四十歲這條線以上,大部分反對,以下大部分支持。這等於是蠻及時的,等到解嚴後出生的人長得夠大了,現在這些人開始回頭注意到自己成長的一生。這幾年我感受到,不同作品會出現,前陣子很紅的《我的少女時代》,也是差不多年代的人在懷舊,裡面有一個北一女的前總統女兒。
我是七年級,但網路上開始出現「七年級懷舊金曲」,我就有點崩潰,而且我還無法否認,因為它裡面選的每一首我都聽過。這最直接就是有一個世代上的共鳴,它有點像是標本式的作品。小琪回來台灣是 2004 年,年份都是切在一些很有趣的地方上。
還有一個可以注意的小點,這裡面刻畫最深的是爸爸,但你把爸爸拿掉,這裡面就沒有男生了,這件事非常有趣,因為在台灣文學史上這是很有趣的傳統,先不管男女作家比例多少,爸爸通常都是負責失蹤的,要被白色恐怖抓走,留下來的都是母親,很堅強,變成阿嬤之後就變成神,阿嬤出現都是神一般的存在。台灣文化裡面我們非常愛戴阿嬤,這是台灣文學史一個很有趣的特徵(全場笑)。
我看這部電影時,我連結到很有趣的幾部作品,第一個是1960、1970年代的《又見棕櫚,又見棕櫚》,作者是余梨華,寫的是跟小琪一樣,一個很認真的孩子,到國外唸書,考慮要不要回來的故事。有機會出國的人是比較幸運的,但尷尬的點是,會處在一個中間狀態,如果留在美國,他在那邊會直接受到美國社會氛圍很糟糕的種族歧視的壓力。最好的狀態是留在中間,回到台灣,但每個人都說你可不可以把我帶去美國,飄來飄去,是小琪的心態很有趣的對照點。
另外一本就是去年印刻出版,後來下架的賴香伶的《翻譯者》,幾乎在講一模一樣的世代,經過政治風波,退出之後,這麼多年後茫然的狀態,因為書有一些版權的問題,被下架了,所以有點難找。這本書,光是看篇章結構就會知道,它是從鄉下地方孩子走到台北,空間上的移動,走到台北也代表精神上的啟蒙,只有從台北回來的表哥,身上才會掉出史明的書。但打過仗之後,會在台北困惑,打拼過之後會開始困惑,我們要的真的是這個嗎?
陳水扁是一個非常鮮明的象徵。陳水扁第一次當選市長的時候,長輩說他們真的有台灣人要出頭天的感覺。下一個階段是他們回到故鄉去了,這剛好跟台灣某種社會氛圍是有聯繫的,某個年代是林強的〈向前走〉,但這個年代我們會回鄉,當小農。一方面台北已經沒有辦法讓你得到你想要的,你也會思考能不能在家鄉得到些什麼。我們現在試試看回去把自己的地方搞好,要怎麼做,這是大家看到會很有感覺的。
電影的敘事很散文,很緩慢,不是很刺激的故事,但在那個節奏裡面,你可以慢慢去想它要講的是什麼。剛剛吳介民老師說的,回去之後問題才開始,所以它沒有給你一個很輕率的結局,說一切都沒事,它根本沒有解決任何問題,但這很寫實。這個狀態我覺得是一個好的處理方式。
Fill 1
現場民眾提問。(攝影/許翔)
現場民眾提問。(攝影/許翔)

Q&A

Q1:我看完這部電影,第一個想法是,它在講認同的問題,因為它多次提到,尤其一開始說她什麼時候變得只會講國語,而不會講台語。再來是阿嬤,阿美族,後來新住民,各種認同問題,包括台灣人認同、原住民認同、我到底是台灣人還是美國人的轉變。所以很好奇講者在電影中看到認同的哪個層面?
吳介民:
我一開始看到的比較多是階級文化多於國族認同。認同觀點有一個重要視角是,不是現成打鐵打好,你去套到那個認同的帽子。認同是自己追尋跟摸索出來的。因為它是女性的敘事觀點,所以對於認同的追尋,不像男性的敘事觀點,容易陷入教條,給你答案,死背起來,現成拿來用就好。幾個主角,比較多看到還是那兩位,小琪跟貝蒂,男性戲份比較少,她們都一直在問「我是誰」,爸爸為什麼都沒有來,在等待、提問、追尋。我是這樣看所謂的認同問題。
Q2:剛剛5位有提到一個東西,可能我個人有連結,但我也推測這個故事要講的故事跟背景設定應該是刻意的。阿嬤的設定是阿美族,後來看到她是花蓮人,火車的場景跟阿嬤家的山,還有告別式上的房子,我一看就知道是花蓮,因為我是花蓮人。電影背景在新莊,花東原住民有人能夠到新莊,相對比例是很低的,多數是宜蘭以北到新北汐止這一帶。
想問5位,對於這個故事設定阿嬤是花蓮背景,還有阿美族阿嬤跟小琪說,妳有四分之一是原住民血統。好奇各位有什麼回應。
朱宥勳:
原住民議題我覺得要稍微說一下,人物組成很有趣。所有角色的人設都是滑過去,但背後都有東西。阿嬤是原住民,住在花蓮,我可以理解敘事上的功能,它設定成原住民,東部,而且是台灣最後的淨土,是心靈原鄉。但你反過來想,原住民有說要當你的心靈原鄉嗎?這是漢人自己想的。原住民的角色,出來是符號的。但以創作者角度來說,我沒有想到比較好的解決方式,結構上可行,但政治上會有一些讓我不安的東西。
之所以說這些角色後面都有東西可以講,貝蒂回去找媽媽的那一幕,媽媽帶著一點醉意回來跟她說話,你知道她媽媽做的工作是什麼,做什麼工作在存錢;爸爸退休那一段,從頭到尾都很白爛,就是我要退休啦,但馬上就知道是「被退休」,因為他跟小琪說,你去公司幫我搬東西,記得拿個紅包。如果你只是看過去,沒有情節,但很多細的地方做得很深。原住民,也許可能的解決方案,是讓阿嬤更有血肉一點,她代表另外一種觀點。
林立青:
所以我要回答他為什麼要跑到新莊這一代?那是島內移民。我們來看,東、西部都一樣,他是高雄人,來台北,雲林人會在三重那一帶。新莊有點特別,它一直以來都有一個聚落,賣開山刀的,存在很久了。我不知道導演的人生經歷,但新莊那一帶包容力蠻大的,街景複雜度沒有三重那麼誇張。
新莊那一帶,什麼時候一口氣房價飆漲,你去查「新莊副都心」、「中央合署大樓預定地」那一帶,在那之前有很多工廠,到迴龍那一帶都還有喔,中港大排那一帶還有很多車床加工廠。它那樣的設定,爸爸應該是在家附近的工地工寮當保全,這跟我的人生經驗是切合的。
我認為那是一個正常的,可能很久沒有人去思考:台灣勞工跟北上工作的人到底住在哪裡。這對我來說再切身不過。我會去日日用打鐵店,因為那邊品質最好的,什麼刀都打得出來,出陣頭的刀也在那邊打的。
Q3:我看這部電影,我沒有看出它想表達什麼,很多人都說它在描述政治,但我不確定它哪裡在描述政治,在指涉什麼,我其實看不出來。有沒有辦法在沒爆雷的狀況下,說明一下?(全場笑)
陳翠蓮:
這部動畫從頭到尾都在講政治。
動畫中,小琪讀的課本、領袖過世的過程,我唸國中時也被派去跪了,還要去「瞻仰領袖遺容」,那就是那個時代,尤其是台北市,我小五進入台北市讀書,本來住在樹林。從小經歷的政治控制,跟區域有關,台北新北接近權力中心控制比較嚴密,中南部可能比較放鬆。
吳乃德住台中,他就說,國民黨講的那一套他們都不甩,我說怎麼會呢?我們從小就很嚴密、制度化,小學生,每個月帶你到中山堂看「國劇」,灌輸「高級文化」。(黃秀如:你看過《梅花》嗎?)當然看過啊。你會看到前面的部分,成長過程很政治,後面導演把政治當作遠景拉開,1990 年代台灣政治轉型,點到小琪去參加工運,或經歷獨台會案。甚至後來,換了誰上台都一樣,對政黨輪替的失望,我看到的都是政治。
我是一個性別意識薄弱的人,所以我看不到女性觀點(全場笑),我只看到政治色彩很濃厚(全場笑)。
李雪莉:
我覺得女性觀點不是只有女人才有意識。這部片,導演很有意識地去說女性的故事,我好想爆雷怎麼辦?(底下:爆!)謝謝。
我不知道我有沒有記錯,有一個角色是陳幸妤,我覺得女性在台灣社會,很多是失語的,多數女性承擔了照顧家庭社會,甚至在底層,她們扮演很重要的,看不到的功能。
我前陣子在雲林蹲點,發現這些家庭裡面,很多負起照顧家庭的責任,或者15、16歲,就得休學照顧家庭的姐姐,還有大量外配,雲林那種婚姻交易還是存在,外配扮演了承擔家庭的責任。另外像是陳幸妤,電影非常同理地去理解陳幸妤的處境,雖然裡面沒有講她是誰,但我們知道她是誰,過往她是從來不說話,只會被媒體拍到憤怒的陳幸妤,但片中看她會很不捨。哪一個男性導演會處理這個?會注意到不曾說話,被錯誤扭曲解讀的女性?這是我很感動的。
美國最近在談 # MeToo 性騷擾,權力者永遠讓這些人噤聲,這些事情如果不能被說,女性角色沒有被看到,能夠幸福嗎?是沒有辦法的。
另外,回應剛才,我非常同意陳翠蓮老師說的,地域會某種程度決定你的視角,像為什麼在中國,廣州的媒體會發展比較好,因為離北京比較遠。花東有山的阻隔,不是行政中心,所以可以比較自在的表達自己。
吳介民:
剛剛林立青提一個很好的觀點,社會流動還有一個管道是婚姻,小琪透過婚姻圓美國夢,但其實是蒼白的美國夢,美國夢碎。她跟美國人談戀愛很有意思,如果主角不是小琪,不是女性,故事就不會這樣發展。你很難想像一個男性到美國跟一個白人異性結婚,這樣的 CCR(Cross Cultural Romance,跨文化戀愛)非常少。她跟先生在協調離婚與否的問題,講了一句話,你愛的「只要是亞洲女人就可以」。
我談一下政治的部分,我看到一個比較違和的是裡面的蔣公銅像太可愛了(全場大笑),你忍心把這麼可愛的銅像拆毀嗎?(全場大笑)
小琪是一個經濟起飛後期成長的年輕人,不同世代的政治發展有不同感受,小琪看到的蔣公是很和藹的,但我們看到的就不一樣。1975年我國中,那時候我在宜蘭,蔣介石一去世,就馬上有蔣公紀念歌,而且有兩首。剛開始那一種很難唱,都是文言文,早上練唱、傍晚練、下課練,就在五月天梅雨季,又穿雨衣,全副武裝站操場,一練就是半小時一小時,我都不知道練了多久。
有一天我在左前方看到一幕,一個我同學,他憋尿憋到受不了,就尿褲子,我看到從他雨衣褲管,黃色的水流下來,那一幕對我是一個創傷。所以蔣公怎麼會這麼可愛?
Q4:我是八年級生,我前天看了電影,剛剛講的那些跟我不直接關連,但我看到一個階級的固化。片頭一開始,主角小琪遇到她的老同學,要選市長,因為這也是我身邊看到的,朋友也是大世家出來,移居到國外了,但我還是在台灣。我整部片看完最印象深刻的,一個問題一直沒有解決,爭取權益,抗爭,我的世代還是在發生,什麼問題都沒有解決。這種階級固化,我們要用什麼心態,可能解決方法太多種了,心態怎麼解決這個問題,跟上一代要怎麼調整。
林立青:
階級固化,我會跟你說,這一直都在發生。但你們三個都看到跟知道問題,對我來說我是一個有信仰的人,但你會覺得有無力感、有不對,是因為你已經知道問題,跟你的信念不一樣。你可能不知道他未來會怎樣,但你覺得那樣才是對的,不應該是如此,我們已經看到問題所在,我認為這是一件好事。所以你仔細看,有些議題在新的世代凝聚共識非常快,例如同志婚姻,理所當然就要讓他們結婚。
現在有一個民進黨政二代跟新人出來選,你要挺哪一個?這不用問。我們知道該怎麼做,只是我們不確定這樣做有沒有效果。勞工運動一直都是失敗的,小琪考上台大,出國,回來很失落,但我們是一開始就沒有希望過,但你還是有一些信念可以留著,你自己已經知道一些問題所在。
我這邊有同溫層的,這個寫《血淚漁場》(指旁邊的李雪莉),知道顧玉玲是誰的舉手?她寫的是社會重大不公不義,但當時整個社會都沒有反應,但我們的作品,今年都得到很多迴響,這些議題已經慢慢深化,不同世代凝聚共識的速度越來越快。你會無力是因為不知道這個信念會不會再次被打擊,但我們要知道,真正的信念是很難被達到的。要尊重女性跟原住民,雖然很緩慢在進步,但至少有在前進。
一部電影如果要能夠把所有方向都指出來,可能超出它的能力範圍,它又比較節制一點,沒有那麼煽情,但它碰到真正關鍵的問題,例如禁書,她知道老師是要保護她,它沒有很煽情的推到二元對立,它讓你去思考。
Q5:我是70年次的,跟小琪年次相近,只大她5歲,整個台灣三十幾年的流變,我們很緊湊參與其中。有人覺得這部片充滿無奈跟絕望,也有人充滿療癒感,因為她說了很多我們曾經經歷過的事情。
當我們在講很宏觀的認同、階級、性別,根本是台灣每個人心理狀態的縮影。台灣人的心理狀態跟社會要怎麼走,如果大家都很絕望,要怎麼把社會的力道撐起來,但社會如果一直讓我們絕望,又要怎麼生出希望當中的力量。所以希望5位可以從這個心理層面為我們打打氣,因為現在不管哪個世代,都是很幻滅的感受,今天早上勞基法的事情,大家都很難過絕望。這三十年來並沒有變好,只有更糟,我們經歷過房市泡沫,網路泡沫,很多問題都沒有解決。
陳翠蓮:
這部電影後半突然拉得很遠,有關台灣體制的轉變過程,突然變得很遙遠、很疏離的。我也看不出來,本來在過程中參與勞工運動抗爭的小琪,後來為什麼對政治很幻滅,我看不出來原因…
(台下民眾:她有當過「自由時報」記者。她當記者時面對2000年大選,嚇成那樣,她應該知道那件事情,對她長期支持的一個想像或民進黨過程,她是逃離台灣的。她去美國是因為她要逃離台灣。)
我知道小琪的逃離有兩個原因,家庭因素跟對政治失望,但哪個轉折我在看的時候覺得是不清楚的。舉例來說,韓國的《我只是個計程車司機》,主角是一個辛勤工作的底層人物,為什麼會被捲入那個打時代,電影中有交代,但動畫後半部我看不到小琪的部分。所以我很不滿意的是這部分。但我可以理解各位七、八年級生,台灣這三十年的發展,讓各位很失望。
我研究歷史,都跟老先生接觸,四年級的,三年級的,他們看台灣的方法與年輕一輩不一樣,我的看法跟他們比較接近,老一輩的我們會認為,過去台灣很多政治操控,缺乏主體性,台灣社會的異化,但到 1980 到 1990 年代還是走過來了,從威權走進民主體制,老世代的人看到的是台灣有了驚天動地的大變化,所以要好好珍惜這著得來不易的民主成果。各位的世代看到是上台的民進黨,腐化的民進黨、兩黨一樣爛,現在大家都是這樣講。不同世代看的東西不太一樣,所以你們對民進黨執政或政黨輪替,誰上台都一樣,幻滅感很強。但我做為老一點的世代,我覺得時代是有變化的。
我們說台灣進入民主化沒有更好,但威權時期與民主時代的基礎是不一樣的,民主時代,在這塊土地上的人,可以透過民主體制,經營我們想要成為怎樣的社會、對人的尊重,可以透過體制表達意見、自由、論爭,可以在這裡安身立命,不用再去當美國人。整個制度是不一樣的,可以讓我們好好思考我們要成為怎樣的社會。
現在的爭論是,要成為怎樣的社會的路線之爭,過去是根本沒有機會決定我們要成為怎樣的社會,這是很大的轉變。所以我沒有那麼悲觀,這都是學習的過程,對民主體制的學習還沒有上手。
什麼時候人們開始享有完全的自由,黃丞儀老師的說法是2011年才完全達成,人們開始享有完全的自由,現在才2018年。兩個時代的基礎其實是不一樣的,現在是左右之爭,以前是完全不能爭,所以我覺得現在是學習的過程,我們的民主體制會往好或壞的方向走?我覺得民主政治是很公平的體制,怎樣的人民就決定我們是怎樣的國家,過去我們著重抗議、表達、爭論,但民主社會還有一個很重要的就是取得共識,我們正在學習,所以我覺得問題沒有那麼大,比較樂觀。
李雪莉:
我看到這部片時,我覺得剛剛那位女同學說,療癒是因為它把遺忘的部分補起來了,所以是溫柔的力量。我對電影停在318學運,我在想的是在2014年之後,這之後的我們會怎麼樣?
2010 到 2012 年,我在北京外派,我明顯感覺到,當每回去中國要寫下「台灣新聞記者回大陸採訪申請表」,每填一格心裡就揪一下,那是認同的被置換。但那時候中國是一個在向上的感覺,經濟起飛,可以看到一些感覺跟希望,也許兩岸在價值的水位上會漸漸相似。但這幾年我明顯感覺到,壓力排山倒海,我們在中國壓力下根本沒有機會好好說話。
那這部片在問,幸福在哪裡?我們可以從大寫的幸福開始去問自己小寫的幸福,多元幸福的想像。2012 年以前我也是這樣相信的。但這5年,我重新思考台灣人幸福的可能,是不可能拋棄所謂國家的定位,這件事又讓我沈重起來。我當然也渴望安身立命的小幸福,但像戴立忍周子瑜、林心如等事件(還包括李明哲事件),會讓人發現是無法安身立命只追求自己的小幸福時,文化產業,言論自由上,我們被打壓,所以我重新思考台灣人的幸福是很辛苦的,不可能脫離家國的想像。
如果我們從政治化到去政治化的思考,這幾年對我來說又是一個政治的思索。他不讓你說你是誰,這樣我還能夠幸福嗎?所以《幸福路上》一語三關,第一,新莊的幸福路。第二,幸福永遠在路上,永遠要追尋。第三,幸福永遠在我們無法想像的彼岸。
我們當然可以創造個人的幸福,但我想,例如鄭南榕想像的幸福,他一定知道他的幸福在看不見的彼岸。但我寧可想像幸福還在路上,沒有終結點,而是我們必須要一直在努力的路上。我們不能很天真的去看。
吳介民:
我聽到療癒這個說法,有感受,但不想直接講。我想到一個導演,塔可夫斯基,他有一本書《雕刻時光》是回憶錄性質。他拍的電影,被專業者認為太艱澀、太前衛、太藝術,但他在《雕刻時光》告訴我們,經常收到俄羅斯各地觀眾的信,都跟他說,你的電影的情節或人物,打動了我,跟我的生命經驗很像。他說最值得的就是收到這樣的信,這樣就很療癒了。
今天最需要療癒的人好像沒有來啊,你們知道我在說誰啊,導演如果來了,聽到我們講的故事,還有說你們自己的感受,她就療癒了。所以療癒跟認同一樣,不是標準的流程或固定的物件,而是流動、追尋的過程。
剛剛從各位的發言回應中,一、兩個意見聽起來有懷舊的意涵,或者聽到有一個這樣的故事,台灣三十年都沒進步,日子越來越難過,這是很個人的感受。但你們可以做一個思想實驗,假設要讓你回到三十年前的台灣社會生活,你要不要?這樣想好了,要不要到升學率只有 10% 的年代,上課要起立敬禮的年代,要不要回到那樣的年代?答案就清楚了。
回到療癒的主題,我們就是這樣走過來的,戒嚴、解嚴到民主化。會讓我們迷惘的最大因素,是因為我們不知道我們正在經歷的事件是什麼,沒有把問題看清楚、想清楚,就會迷惘,所以要開始追索他的認同。療癒是每天要做的,因為我們不知道正在發生什麼事情,就會迷糊跟失落。就像我們如果不知道最近勞基法修改,來龍去脈是什麼,那些修法與反對的人,到底想要爭什麼,哪些論述是話術,哪些是真實的,弄清楚就不會迷惑了,也不會對執政黨有過度的期待,給他們警告、懲罰(選票)也可以,但我們必須清楚此刻正在發生著什麼事情。
Q6:我今天看了這部電影,影片中間有小琪跟媽媽吵架,因為她去參加社會運動,看了不該看的書。世代之間意見不同的地方,這部分到後面被懸置了,想問講者怎麼看這一點。因為我也覺得結束在三一八運動好像也是一個試圖延續這個衝突的安排,想問講者怎麼看。
朱宥勳:
當我們說事情卡住,沒有變好,比較基準是什麼呢?是它沒有追上我們的期待,而不是事情沒有往前推。
同志婚姻,沒有人想得到,民進黨在上台一年內會推同志婚姻。時光稍微倒流一下,事情有進有退,它像是一面算盤,這邊往上,那邊往下。這是人的閱聽慣性,對壞消息比較有感覺。我看過圈子內的人說,(最近的修法)金融沙盒跟公司法都是好的對的事情,這我不確定,這議題我不懂,但我覺得有些時候不用那麼緊張。如果你專注某個領域去看,把時間拉開來看,會比較清楚一點。
我自己關心國文教育,去年底的文白之爭,是轉型正義的最後一步,那是國民黨殘留體制的最後一步了,它沒有辦法再複製它的價值觀了,這是政權保衛戰的等級,文化產業的人知道他們在做什麼,我們也知道我們在做什麼。年輕的中文系師生是支持新的改革方向,部分的人是一個人在跟大家對抗,你說事情沒有變好嗎?現在過了很好,現在沒有過,早晚會過的。
我們能做的就是在自己的領域,確保我們拿到的成果可以確實落實,例如拿到一個立法,但進入法律實務可能會是另外一回事。我們跟一群朋友在試圖編自己的教科書,新的課綱寫得很好,但不知道會編出什麼樣的東西。有時候當我們投入一個領域時,會忙到沒有時間悲觀,因為看到一點改一點,看到一點改一點。
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The Taiwanese Anime Film Making Everyone Weepy-Eyed For Their Childhoods

The animated film On Happiness Road (幸福路上) has been called a milestone in Taiwanese animated film. Set in the 1970s, the story spans 30 years of Taiwanese history and depicts historical events through the lens of a personal narrative. It touches on themes close to the hearts of different generations in Taiwan and leads viewers to reflect on the choices they have made in their own lives.
Life in Taiwan was quite different between the '60s and '80s; the Taiwanese Hoklo language was prohibited and Chiang Kai-shek's (蔣介石) cult of personality was very much alive. In what ways were the feelings, experiences, and imaginations of the Taiwanese people different? In this new era, how can Taiwanese put those forgotten memories back together? Below are excerpts from a panel conducted jointly by Rive Gauche Publishing, Acropolish Publishing, and Gusa Publishing; the Reporter was given permission to reprint the discussion, and is edited for brevity by the translator.
Chen Tsui-lien (陳翠蓮) History professor at National Taiwan University Author of Reconstructing 228 (重構二二八)
I often hear friends say that Taiwan doesn’t care about its own history or culture, and that we don’t tell our own history in our stories. The director of this animated film tried to do exactly that. I don’t think I’m the only one who sees this as a very political film, which is a first for Taiwan. Because of this, everyone should go see it.
Director Sung Hsin-yin (宋欣穎) was born the same day President Chiang Kai-shek died, and the film’s depiction of the environment she grew up in, for example her schools and entrance examinations, is surprisingly similar to how I remember it despite our age gap of ten years. From the start, her dad told her that she would starve studying philosophy. When I was young I wanted to draw, and my dad would also say: do you want to starve? I was born on November 24. Does that date sound familiar? The school textbooks from the time said that the Revive China Society (興中會) — a predecessor to the KMT — was founded on that day and that it was the beginning of the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation. When I found out about this I felt a little bit like I had been chosen by the gods, to be born on the same day as this great Party. The education of the time showered us with this kind of thinking.
Because the protagonist of the film Chi (小琪) wanted to study the humanities, she had to rebel against her family. Many people back then were like that: they were their parents’ greatest hopes. I wanted to study political science, and my mother was scared to death that I would become a political criminal.
I was in school even earlier than Chi, when society was even more strictly controlled. In the film, textbooks told the fable of Chiang watching fish swim up the river; when I was in first grade, we sang anti-Communist and national rejuvenation songs in the morning assembly. I went to a school in the outskirts of Taipei in Shulin, and the children would sing in the morning: “fight the Communists, fight the Communists, go to the Mainland to fight the Communists."
When we talked about the president or the founding father, we had to sit up straight; those from the ‘50s will remember this era of even more intense rules. This part of the movie resonated with me, especially the part where we made fun of our parents’ “low class dialect” after learning Mandarin and “high culture.”
When I was small I could already speak pretty standard Mandarin, and when I was sent to speech competitions I always felt so proud of myself. When people said, “Chen Tsui-lien you must be a mainlander,” I also felt proud, as if my blood had been washed clean.
A friend of mine, born in the ‘40s, tells me this film also describes how she grew up. Those born from the ‘40s to ‘70s all pretty much grew up in the same way. We see from the film that from the beginning to the end of martial law, Taiwanese society did not change very much. In fact my child entered high school recently and I found that the content of their literature textbooks is pretty much the same as when I was in middle school. This is actually very scary.
The issues discussed in this film are not just the problems of a particular generation, but a problem facing all of Taiwanese society today. It is an animation that crosses generations. Hayao Miyazaki’s movies are watched by young and old, and each generation sees different things. This animation is just like that: when people watch with their parents, each sees a different facet.
Because I studied political science, the political aspects of this film stood out to me. One key point of the film is how, for a very long time, the people living on Taiwan were de-emphasized or even alienated by the occupying society or country.
The importance of education should have been to teach individuals to discover themselves, to enlighten and search, but the education that we saw did not allow for students to ask: who am I? What kind of person am I? What kind of adult do I want to be? They never taught these things, and it is still like this today.
Those in the government think that education is a tool to implement their standards; that there is a way that the people should be. Education becomes estranged; it becomes a tool to make money, a tool to make a living. Reading books just becomes a way to find a job. It is still like this; we want universities to cut the humanities because students have to find jobs when they leave, and becoming a doctor is still the top aspiration. It’s probably not this bad anywhere else in the world. When education is estranged, the focus is no longer on people.
For example, when characters in the film become interested in themselves and their ethnicity and investigate the history of their island, they become enemies of the rulers and are arrested. The film satirically calls Taiwan a “kingdom that does not read books.” In this kingdom, people who read books like Ah-wen (阿文) become a thorn in the eye of the rulers.
What kind of country should we be? What are the national ideas to which we aspire? These were not important questions for the authorities. An important part of the film touches on how everyone wanted to leave for America and it really was exactly like this. When I was in high school, when the situation in Taiwan was at its most dangerous, my classmates who had good family backgrounds all chose to emigrate, to escape this place, to become Americans, Canadians, Australians, or South Africans.
Taiwan is a drifting island. The saddest part of the film for me is that Ah-wen also went to America. Those with the economic ability left Taiwan; it’s as if this has always been Taiwan’s fate, to be a city of sadness. In the past it was to leave for America, and now there might be another goal.
In such a situation, how can people have any kind of hopes for life in Taiwan? Any kind of dream? Even though people work hard, in the end, what makes them happy? The grandmother’s saying that “having food to eat is happiness” feels pessimistic; it is a vicious circle for society. In the film, the protagonist Chi challenges this phenomenon, and ends up with a lot of questions.
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Scene from On Happiness Road
Scene from On Happiness Road
Wu Jieh-min (吳介民) Assistant researcher at Academia Sinica Author of The Third Imagining of China (第三種中國想像)
There was a period of my life when I was considered a low class vagrant. I never lived in Xinzhuang, where the film is set, but I lived in Sanchong, another satellite district of Taipei City. In places like Xinzhuang and Sanchong, there were small factories everywhere.
I was born in the ‘60s, and in those times, Sanchong, Xinzhuang and Luzhou were completely different than how they are today. I didn’t live on Happiness Road, but I felt a familiarity with the characters and the world depicted in the film. Even though I’m a generation older than Chi, this film still had a kind of magical power to allow me to sink into reflection, to reflect on how I came to be where I am today. Since elements in the film were so close to my own background, it took me back to the era that I grew up in.
Chi’s family consists of labourers, and labourers had only two roads they could take in society. Today these two roads are even narrower, but back then there was still a chance: one was to work hard in the lower class and go from gangster to boss. In the film there is a character who saves up money and starts his own auto repair shop, slowly moving upwards until he could become a small business owner. After working hard for five years, he had enough to pay the down payment for a unit in the “Ph. D. Homes” apartment complex in Xinzhuang. But today, this would be impossible.
The other road was through standardized exams, with the hope that one’s child could somehow improve the family’s situation. What did Chi’s parents want her to study? We are so used to hearing this kind of story: they wanted her to be a doctor. What school was it that Chi was admitted to, when all her neighbours came over to congratulate her? Of course it was Taipei First Girls’ High School (北一女), the best girls’ school in the country.
This wasn’t about admittance to National Taiwan University, the country’s best university, this was just about Taipei First Girls’. Even that was something to set off firecrackers for.
When I saw it I was very moved and became lost in thought about its connection to my own life. The first remarkable thing about this film is that it made me think about these questions. Hollywood movies don’t make you think, they only make you cry. But the best works of art and literature are the ones that ask questions.
The introduction of our current discussion posed the question of whether this is a film about our country’s people and whether it can be interpreted from a political perspective. To me, this is too much. But it is also too narrow to view the film merely as a biography or the director’s personal life story. So, my compromise is that the film achieved at least one thing, which is that it let us relive a period of Taiwan’s history. It is a story of two generations that every parent has experienced. Of course the film actually covers three generations, but the grandmother’s story is more in the background and is dealt with more abstractly.
From the point of view of my research as a sociologist, the film is about the “economic miracle” period of Taiwan’s history, and not the era before it.
Taiwan had thirty years of rapid economic growth at almost 10 percent GDP growth per year, which is as fast as China is growing today. This era, between the ‘60s and the ‘80s, has already passed in Taiwan, and Chi was born in 1975, so she mostly lived after this era.
We now live in the “post economic miracle” period. In the fifteen years after the economic miracle, with enough hard work and enough luck, a person could lift their social status, make money, become rich, and go from being a gangster to a business owner. However, after economic growth became saturated, opportunities became fewer and competition became even more fierce. As a result, the contradictions between interpersonal competition and societal structure became more serious. Similarly in China, the accumulated contradictions in society have become even greater than they were twenty or thirty years ago.
Chi and her friends lived through this period. They played together, they were forced to stand in punishment together by their teachers, and attended cram sessions together after class. My teacher was just like the one in the film; exam questions would be revealed during the cram session and if you didn’t attend, your grades would suffer.
I thought it was just too apt that Sheng-en’s (聖恩) father raises pigeons for a living in the film. Back then, Taiwanese were crazy about betting on pigeon races; it was a way to get rich (or lose everything). I raised pigeons too when I was young, but after awhile I just let them go.
I thought this film had a strong class consciousness, which is really rare for Taiwanese films. It has been there in Taiwanese literature, but not so much in films. I think of the film as a fable on class mobility which belongs entirely to Taiwan. It’s really so very Taiwanese, the visual details and story are really very Taiwanese, and its flavour is that of a lower class satellite city of Taipei.
Chi’s grandmother is Amis, and she played two roles in her life. Sometimes when Chi felt unhappy, she would provide a fix: there was one time when she drew a tattoo on her as a sort of therapy. She also played the role of a spiritual teacher. Her grandmother said many times that as long as people have food to eat, they are happy; as long as you can cook, and cook well, then things are alright. When Chi mulled her return to Taiwan she said, “I don’t know how to do anything.” But according to her grandmother, if you have enough to eat then you have happiness.
This saying was also spoken by other characters. Could it be a way for those on the lowest rung of Taiwanese society to humorously accept their fates, a sort of philosophy for lower class living? Or is it a stereotype that Taiwanese have of themselves? I think it’s worth thinking about.
The part of the film where Chi decides to return to Taiwan, I thought of another literary work. Has anyone read Night Freight (夜行貨車) by Chen Ying-chen (陳映真)? Having suffered enough, the male and female protagonists decide to return to their hometown, but this doesn’t solve their problems. Likewise, Chi returns to Taiwan to be together with her parents again, but the problems only start from there. Her parents are growing older, and Chi is already forty years old. What will she do to care for her aging parents? This is a very relevant problem for today’s young generation. 
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Scene from On Happiness Road
Scene from On Happiness Road
Sherry Lee (李雪莉) Editor-in-chief of The Reporter Author of Fishing Ground of Blood and Tears (血淚漁場)
The two scholars who just spoke shared quite a lot, and gave some very deep and academic analysis, which is what I was most afraid of. How can I talk about my view of the film now? When I watched the film, I felt that I was very similar to Chi. Even though I didn’t live in a satellite city, I think a lot of people had similar backgrounds: I was not rich, but I still lived in Taipei when I was young.
Those born in the ‘70s lived through an awkward time, and this is the first film which gives voice to that generation. We didn’t lead in the storm of student movements in the ‘80s where, for example, many of our panelists’ classmates came to power. We also grew up in a time before the internet era, and those who grew up in that era lack our sense of burden.
I was born in 1975, and I remember on the day that martial law was lifted my father said to me, “finally, now we can actually speak.” In my thirteen years of life we had no way of actually “speaking.” If one spoke carelessly, the police could check our household registration cards. My second point is that in the past Taiwan has had many films, for example Girlfriend Boyfriend (女朋友男朋友), whose political narratives were very rigidly male. Even when they depicted the Wild Lily student movement, it was from a male viewpoint. On the other hand, On Happiness Road is a film which comes from a female perspective. Edward Yang’s Taipei Story (青梅竹馬) and A Brighter Summer Day (牯嶺街少年殺人事件) are metaphors of sorts for the politics of the time, but in an understated way. Sylvia Chang’s 20 30 40 comes from a female perspective, but it is not a political film.
As the film has a female perspective, it tends to emphasize relationships. I won’t give spoilers, but for example, among them are Chi’s relationship with her grandmother, her friends, and her neighbours who were Mainlanders with a military background. This may seem like a minor point, but it expresses a kind honesty and womanly concern. It is not a heroic action film, and some people were disappointed by the lack of big dramatic scenes and felt that it wasn’t entertaining. But it is a film that sees Taiwan from a female point of view with a cast of very three-dimensional supporting characters, and expresses a warmth toward people.
My third point is that the animation industry in Taiwan has always been doing subcontractor work for Japanese and American companies. Other than rare exceptions such as Grandma and Her Ghosts (魔法阿嬤), there have not been examples of Taiwanese telling their own stories in this medium. On Happiness Road is a complex story that spans 30 years and moves between the past and present in a way similar to Satoshi Kon’s Millennium Actress.
I saw on Facebook a director saying that if On Happiness Road was shot as a live-action film, it definitely would have earned more than 10 million NTD (3 million USD). But how expensive would that have been? In the current situation, where Taiwanese cultural industries face pressure from China, it’s already hard enough to secure resources for this kind of work. In that sense, it’s a milestone. It is a work of art with deep values, but I’m a little worried about its box office sales. The film really has a lot of historical significance.
Those of us born in 1975 are used to big panoramic narratives of happiness. We are used to uppercase Happiness, whose foundations lay in the “nation”: that is, to smash the Communists is to be happy. But when this notion was shattered and Taiwan slowly became more diverse and messy, we began to chase a lowercase happiness. Compared to before, this kind of happiness isn’t one that can be achieved purely from hard work and economic growth. The economy was actually very weak in the years immediately after our youth.
Without a predetermined track, we began to ponder what the purpose of life was. We searched for this lowercase happiness and wondered why it was so difficult to find. In the last class I attended at National Taiwan University, I finally realized how confused we were.
This is a serious issue for those born in the ‘80s and ‘90s, especially those who studied in the humanities since they’ve encountered difficulty finding jobs. Further, people born in the ‘80s and ‘90s believe that today’s Taiwan is diverse and that diverse values will naturally develop, but this development in the last thirty years has been slow and hasn’t met our expectations. In some areas things have become more like they were before, for example with vocational schools. From industry to government, there is more and more emphasis on a single value - see how the labor law has been amended, for example. I don’t understand it at all.
This film is a call to memory for those born in the ‘60s and ‘70s, a story describing their childhoods. For those born in the next decades, they may feel confused that diversity has still not been achieved in Taiwan. This is an impression I hold deeply.
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The participants take part in the discussion panel.
The participants take part in the discussion panel.
Lin Li-ching (林立青) Novelist Author of Working Man (做工的人)
I feel like the pressure is on now, since the last few speakers said a lot of interesting things about our national consciousness. I had just taken my mom to see the film this afternoon. She’s an archetypical mom, just like Chi’s, and after she saw the film she told me to hurry up and get married, see how happy married people are. She said, your mother loves you, so why don’t you have a kid to love too. It’s a good film to see with family; they’ll be in a good mood to blackmail you and you’ll have some interesting interactions and discussions afterwards.
As soon as we walked out of the theatre, my mom said the beginning was similar to Sanyo Whisbih (三洋維士比)—a mildly alcoholic Taiwanese energy drink—and the end was like Paolyta-B (保力達B)—a stronger alcoholic Taiwanese energy drink. Working class people like us often compare things to advertisements. It was only in the past two years, since I became an author, that I would go to the movies with people. In the past we would only see one every year, and the whole family would go on a special occasion.
The characters Chi and Sheng-en in the film each symbolize different tendencies and ways of living. Regarding class mobility, someone already discussed entrepreneurship as one method, and scholarship, testing and the civil service is another. But there is another way, the oldest in the book, which the movie also shows: marriage. The three friends had their own way. I never saw my friends who got into Taipei First Girls’ again. Even now, I still can’t find them.
The grandmother has a saying: “if you have food to eat then everything is fine.” That is, be content with what you have. But the father and mother have a different definition of happiness. They want Chi to be more accomplished than they are. The grandparents’ generation already feels that their children have surpassed them in accomplishments, and the parents’ generation feels the same way about Chi. But as I realized in the last few months, just going to Taipei First Girls’ doesn’t guarantee a lifetime of success, and the film shows the same thing. Chi is still hesitant in life, and after her fight with the system she doesn’t know what she wants to do.
People like me also don’t know what they want to do, but I’m lucky in that I’m stuck between these two generations. As Chi’s worldview widens she only becomes more confused and hesitant. She leaves the country, finds a job and gets married. This is something we have always felt pressure to do. And we see all kinds of strange pressures and fantasies constantly being thrown at today’s youth, if not from their parents then from the people around them.
This film was very ambitious. For a Taiwanese animation to be good, it has to have a good plot and it has to move people. It was at least able to incorporate the grandmother’s indigenous heritage and her betel nut eating habits, which were a source of cultural conflict in the film. My father, like Chi’s, had also hurt his foot, and I remember talking to my mother quietly in front of the TV. I said that he would definitely lose his job, and my mom said that Taiwanese bosses were all like that, horrible people.
That raises the question: did Chi’s father really choose to retire, or was he forced to do so? When Chi confronted her father she did not understand this, and her father did not want them to know. Afterwards, they would pick up trash and recycle for money, and that really touched me. I’ve learned from working in construction what kind of recyclable metals were good to sell. I’ve always been a labourer; even now I don’t visit coffee shops like this one. I’m still learning how to come to places like this.
The director has already discussed the issue of nationality. In one scene, Chi’s father says she is about to be born and at the same time, Chiang Kai-shek passes away. My mom said to me that in those times you would have to kneel. To me, when people die they just die, but when my mom was in school the kids would kneel in rows. Graduation ceremonies were cancelled the year Chiang died, and then again when his son, Chiang Ching-kuo (蔣經國) died.
Nowadays gangsters can’t become businessmen anymore. Is the notion of old money and legacy still around? We can openly discuss indigenous issues on television and even discuss the ethnic origins of people from South-east Asia. I won’t reveal more about the story, but I want to encourage everyone to take their families to see this film, and also read my book, Working Man, alongside it.
Chu You-hsin (朱宥勳) Novelist and columnist Author of The Books They Don’t Dare to Teach in School (學校裡面不敢教的小說)
I was born in January in 1988. Last year there was an event in remembrance of martial law from the perspective of three different generations, and I was invited. I told them that my memories would consist entirely of sleeping in the hospital nursery (Taiwan’s martial law period ended in 1988).
I study literature, so I’ve developed a good sense of narrative time. Chi was born in 1975, so when martial law was lifted she had just entered middle school and was probably 12 years old. The film emphasizes that she was born the day that Chiang Kai-shek died. This has symbolic meaning: when this generation of Taiwanese think about the lives they want to live and about happiness, the starting point is the death of this “great man.” Before he died, there was no use in even thinking about it. For the next twelve years before she entered middle school, Chi was very naive and cute. Entering middle school was the dividing line between this carefree Chi and the confused Chi.  This dividing line coincides with the end of martial law.
There are two main events that happened on Taiwan in the 20th century. The first is in 1945, when the Japanese colonial government was replaced by the Kuomintang. The second main event is the end of martial law, when the idea of what it means to be Taiwanese and where we wanted to go were re-evaluated. I don’t know what the director thought about when she wrote the film, but I think this is an accurate and interesting set-up. Based on social views, the generation of people who are 40 right now form another kind of dividing line. For example, most people older than 40 oppose same-sex marriage, but people younger approve. In this way, the film is very timely, since the people who were born after the end of martial law are now old enough to look back and think about how they grew up. In recent years I’ve felt that a lot of works, for example Our Times (我的少女時代), are essentially an expression of this generation’s nostalgia.
I was born in the ‘80s, and when I find playlists of hit songs from then on the internet I always crumble a little bit; I can’t deny that I recognize every song on the playlist. These songs are the common cry of a generation, a collection of specimens. Chi, returning to Taiwan in 2004, always manages to find herself in places that are going through an interesting time.
A small remark: the father is the most deeply portrayed character, but if you take him out of the movie then there are no men left. I think this is very interesting, because this has been an archetype in Taiwanese literature. It doesn’t matter if the author is male or female, the father is always the responsible figure who is lost, for example perhaps he is taken away during the White Terror. He leaves behind the mother who has to be strong, and when she becomes a grandmother she becomes like a god. When grandmothers appear it is like god exists. In Taiwanese literature we love and respect our grandmothers, this is an interesting characteristic of Taiwanese literature.
When I watched this film, I connected it with a few other works. The first is Palms Again (又見棕櫚,又見棕櫚) by Yu Lihua (於梨華) from the ‘60s or ‘70s. She wrote about a character just like Chi, a very earnest child who left the country to study and considers whether or not to come back. People who have the opportunity to leave Taiwan for America are more fortunate, but they end up awkwardly stuck in between the two. If they stay in America, they will experience racial discrimination. The best thing is to come back to Taiwan, but when you come back everyone asks if you can take them to America. Chi’s mentality of simply floating about serves as an interesting point of contrast.
The book Translator (翻譯者) by Lai Hsiang-yin (賴香吟) was published last year, and essentially talks about how Chi’s generation lived through these political crises and came out of it with a loss of what to do. The book might be a little hard to find, since it was pulled from shelves due to copyright issues, but you can tell from the chapter titles that it is about a child who comes from the countryside to Taipei. This migrant’s arrival in Taipei represents a spiritual awakening, as it is his cousin who brings a book by Su Beng (史明), a famous political activist, back from Taipei. But after fighting his battles and struggling to make a living, he is left in Taipei confused: is this what he had really wanted?
Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) is a very clear symbol. When he was first elected mayor of Taipei, the older generation said they felt like it was a breakthrough for Taiwanese, and afterwards they left Taipei for their home villages. The period before could be described by Lim Giong’s (林強) song “Walk Forward” (向前走), but afterwards the atmosphere in Taiwanese society made them feel that it was time to go home and become small farmers. In some way, Taipei was no longer able to give them what they wanted, so they thought to look for it at home in the countryside. Today, it is touching when we see how people went back and fixed up their homes.
The narrative in the film is like an essay, very deliberate. It is not an exciting story, but in its rhythm you can slowly think about the story it is trying to tell. Wu Jieh-min said earlier that problems only start when you go back. The film doesn’t give you an ending where all is well and wrapped up. At the end, no problems have been solved, but this is very honest. I think this is a good way to deal with things.
More English reads, please click here.

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