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Posted November 09, 2010 to photo album "Father-Daughter Movies"
Inspired by Sofia Coppola’s Somewhere, resident film historian David Parkinson looks back over the history of films that focus on father-daughter relationships.
Slide 10: The Foodie Father - Eat Drink Man Woman (1994)
Filmmaking partnerships work in the strangest ways. Having launched the “Father Knows Best” trilogy with the US-set Pushing Hands (1992) and The Wedding Banquet (1993), director Ang Lee was determined to complete the cycle in his native Taiwan. Moreover, he was keen to combine the Confucian and the contemporary and draw on his own recollections of being an ambitious wannabe, who stayed home to cook meals and write scripts, while his wife went out to work. Yet, the job of penning the screenplay fell to Lee's long-time American producing partner, James Schamus, who freely admitted that writing from a Chinese perspective hardly came easily to him. Indeed, the more research he conducted into social and culinary tradition, the more confused he became and, as he later revealed, “the worse the script got.” Then, almost out of desperation, he decided to tell the story from a more familiar viewpoint and reworked the tale of a master chef who drifts apart from his three twentysomething daughters as a Jewish saga rooted in his own experience. Having completed the scenario, Schamus changed the character names and submitted it to Lee, whose delighted verdict was, “It looks very Chinese.” Yet there is actually something universal about a once tightly knit family beginning to fray at the edges. Moreover, by dwelling on the ritual of preparing and consuming gourmet dishes, Lee and Schamus reinforce the truism that “food and sex are basic human desires and they can't be avoided.” But, while Old Chu (Sihung Lung) can overcome the deterioration of his taste buds to save a restaurant that has had a disaster with its shark fin soup, he finds it much more difficult to salvage his relationships with daughters whose lives remain a mystery outside what they tell him at the Sunday dinner table. Consequently, his dedicates his skills to Shan-Shan (Yu-Chien Tang), the young daughter of a recently divorced neighbour, and one can only hope that Lee will reveal what happened to their burgeoning friendship if he ever gets to making the rumoured sequel, Very Far But Very Near.