Taiwan Film Confronts Homosexuality's Dark Side

( [email protected] ) Aug 31, 2007 01:14 PM EDT
Homosexuals are at mercy of “beasts” living within them, suggests a controversial new film by a respected Taiwanese filmmaker.
Still-shot from the Taiwanese- film ''I Saw A Beast'', a new film that explores the dark side of homosexuality in Taiwanese-culture. The film is set for release, Sept. 14, 2007. (Production Photo/I Saw A Beast)

Homosexuals are at the mercy of “beasts” living within them, suggests a controversial new film by a respected Taiwanese filmmaker.

”I Saw a Beast,” a motion picture presentation that will premier Sept. 14, features a nightmarish rendition of the world of homosexuals, where self-destructive desires and lust consumes those who inhabit it.

"This film is unlike other homosexual movies filmed before,” critically-acclaimed director Liu Yi-hong said to Taiwan-based United Daily News (UDN). "The film dwells on the darkness in the [homosexuals’] inner-being."

Liu said that the protagonist of his film can only find solutions through redemption in Christ – unlike characters in similar movies who are instead trapped by their lust.

Loosely based on the true-life testimony of a believer, the story centers around the protagonist, who must overcome both church prejudices and self-loathing to find the courage to leave the homosexual lifestyle.

Chen Yi-hua, Liu’s wife and the film’s producer, said she expects the film to generate much controversy after its release, especially from more conservative-minded Christians.

"This movie is not going to satisfy everyone, but will emphasize to people that there are more important things worth pursuing than to follow lustful desires," said Chen, who left her senior-level position at a Christian media company to help her husband with filming.

While most critics have denounced the use of nudity in the film, others have criticized the film for its prevailing dark undertones.

Generally, discussion of homosexuality is still considered taboo in Taiwan’s more traditional Chinese society, especially within Taiwanese churches.

Liu, however, is not the first Taiwan-based director to delve into the touchy subject matter.

In 2005, fellow national Ang Lee won best director at the Academy Awards for his controversial hit “Brokeback Mountain,” which was blasted by evangelical Christians worldwide for its sympathetic portrayal of homosexuals.

Though it was banned in China, “Brokeback” ironically received accolades from state media for its financial success at the box office.

Liu, who turned to Christianity six years ago, maintains that his upcoming film will not condone homosexuality, but teach about how God can heal those with homosexual tendencies.

“God is actually the real main character of this movie,” Liu emphasized to the Gospel Herald newspaper, while pointing out that the film’s characters often call on God’s name for power.


The story revolves around “Jun,” who leaves the Church after spending years struggling with her homosexual tendencies.

Jun initially sees herself as liberated and openly flaunts her homosexuality while beginning a clandestine affair with her partner, Patty, who is already married and has a child.

Patty is too afraid to come “out-of-the-closet,” and chooses to remain with her temperamental and abusive husband.

After falling into depression, however, Patty confronts her husband with her homosexuality and leaves.

The two lovers begin their new lives together, but all is not well. Jun is troubled after seeing herself in a dream as a beast overcome with insatiable lust.

Wracked with guilt, and perhaps struggling with demons from the past, Jun seeks redemption with the help of a sympathetic pastor – whose prayers and gentle guidance ultimately allows Jun to overcome her struggle to leave her lifestyle behind.

Feeling betrayed, Patty does not readily accept Jun’s change of heart and silently plots revenge, which brings tragic consequences for everyone involved.

The film, which is scheduled for limited release in Taiwan, is not recommended for younger audiences due to sexually-explicit scenes, nudity and mature subject matter.

At the moment, the film has not been rated.

www.isawabeast.com (Only in Chinese-characters at this moment)

Gospel Herald reporter Ian Huang in Taipei, Taiwan, contributed to this report. The following Gospel Herald reporters translated some information in this article: Joseph Leung in Vancouver, Canada; Claudia Cheng in San Francisco, CA, USA.