Friday, February 26, 2016

Follow-up post:  Heaven in the Dark production clip & some background info on the original stage play

As a follow up to my previous post, I wanted to share another post about my most anticipated movie of the year, Heaven in the Dark!   Emperor Motion Pictures (EMP) released a behind-the-scenes production clip for the making of the movie that features interviews with the cast and director.  OMG, the more I watch / read about the movie, the more I can’t wait for the movie to come out! 

I wanted to also take this opportunity to give a little bit more information on the movie as well as the stage play that it was based on (Candace Chong’s “The French Kiss”).  Before I do so though, I have to say that I have no clue at this point how faithful the movie’s script will be to the original stage play script – my understanding is that director Steve Yuen was the one who actually “wrote” the movie’s script (meaning that he was the one who adapted the stage play script to movie version).  The original stage play script was very reliant on the brilliantly-written dialogue to make it such the success it was, so hopefully Steve Yuen retained this aspect when adapting the script.   In the production clip, both Jacky and Karena stated that each person who read the script had a different perspective in terms of the story and what ‘truly happened’ between Pastor To (Jacky) and Michelle (Karena).  Hopefully this means that much of the powerful dialogue that Candace Chong originally wrote in the stage play version was retained.

Someone asked me what genre I would classify this movie into and my answer at the time (based on everything I had read about the movie and the stage play) was that I lean more toward this being a  “psychological thriller, but minus the action and with a heavy emphasis on the ‘psychological’ part”.  Well, turns out I wasn’t too much off the mark, as the writer of the original screenplay, Candace Chong, was actually a psychology major in college, but after graduating, she felt she wasn’t suitable to pursue the field of psychology as a career, since she found that she is unable to suppress her emotions in order to look at situations objectively.  So she decided to pursue an advanced degree in screenwriting – turned out to be the right decision given her success today as a highly acclaimed, award-winning playwright.  In all of Candace Chong’s works, she addresses serious issues that the public often faces (whether social, political, economic, etc.), but in a way that is brilliantly interwoven and incorporated into the stories via powerful dialogue.  And there is always a psychology-related angle to her works due to her background.

Obviously, because of this movie, I’ve been reading up on Candace Chong and her stage play “The French Kiss” in recent weeks.  In addition to the above background on Candace Chong, I found out that the story in The French Kiss is actually based on real-life events:  a pastor kissed his secretary and subsequently was sued for sexual harassment.  Listening to this pastor recount his experience, someone commented that he can be considered lucky, since he did not have to go to jail and only had to pay a fine as punishment.  To this, the pastor replied:  “But I compensated with my reputation, family, friends, and my soul.”  When Candace Chong heard this, her initial reaction was one of shock and it reinforced her belief that ‘real life is more dramatic than plays’ -- so it inspired her to write this play in order to explore the inner human psyche as well as address issues related to religion, law, and moral values.   A quote from a Chinese University interview with Candace Chong a couple years back does a great job summarizing the purpose of the story and its impact:  “[In The French Kiss], Chong provokes the audience to re-examine the verdict through the tense conversation between the pastor and the secretary and raises the problem of false memories brought about by self-deception and a selective memory.”  This is why, in the original stage play script, there is no real ‘ending’ to the story, as it is impossible to get to the ultimate truth due to the way human nature and the human mind work – throughout the story and even to the end, both the pastor and his secretary are unwavering in their ‘beliefs’ of what happened and their own versions of ‘the truth’.

I will definitely be posting up more stuff about Heaven in the Dark (as well as the stage play) in coming weeks, so those who are interested, please stay tuned.  For those who don’t like knowing too much info about a movie prior to watching it, I apologize if you already read this and it spoiled anything for you – if you haven’t read it though (or didn’t watch the clip),  I encourage you to come back after you watch the movie and see if these posts answer any lingering questions you might have in regards to the movie.
Production clip -- “Scattered Memories”

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