Sunday, February 3, 2008

Chan is Missing: Feeling of Displacement

I enjoyed the movie "Chan is Missing" with its documentary-style filmmaking and mystery. There were many concepts in the movie that I thought were incorporated very well into the film. For instance, the diversity of the Asian Americans in the film. On one side of the spectrum, we hear about the character Chan Hung, who is described by his wife as "too Chinese". And on the other end, we have characters like Mr. Lee who does not even recognize himself as a Chinese individual. He separates himself from the rest of the population, making comments like, "Sometimes hard to educate them" and "Those Chinese wiseguys". Scattered between the two extremes are characters like the brilliant scholar, Henry the eccentric chef and restaurant owner, and the Steve, the hip, streetwise friend. Like in Renee Tajima-Pena's film, "My American... or Honk If You Love Buddha", we see a wide array of Asian Americans each with their own distinct characteristics.

Another very interesting concept of the film was the feeling of displacement described. Chan Hung was missing because he was unable to find his identity in the United States. Coming to the states, he had become physically displaced: the United States was not his home. He felt isolated even among fellow Asian Americans in Chinatown. Not only this, Jo lets the audience know that Chan had been socially displaced as well. While a wealthy man in China, he now cannot find financial success in the United States. We can assume other types of displacement as well, perhaps political displacement or intectual displacement. Whatever the case may be, because of this feeling of displacement, Chan is without an identity. At the end of the film, either Jo nor Steve know who this man is, no more than Chan knows himself.

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