After years of actively building a single national identity, many people in the mainland may have lost sight of the vastness and diversity of their country and its people.That second to last paragraph is as subtle a message as the movie itself.
No wonder many mainland viewers were confused about the real message delivered in Cape No. 7.
The nostalgic perception of Japan's occupation of Taiwan proved to be the biggest surprise. With the plot centered on a Japanese man's love letters to a girl in Taiwan, the film fails to strike the nationalistic note typically found in mainland movies about the war.
The film exposes subtleties in Taiwan attitudes toward this period of history, which people on both sides of the strait commonly regard as a time of patriotic fervor.
Audiences may have to accept a reality that people on the two sides have different experiences and therefore, different perceptions.
Cape No. 7, a light comedy, offers an unexpected insight into the attitudes and experiences that shape today's Taiwan through the vivid portraits of some common people: an unsuccessful young singer in the metropolis of Taipei; a Japanese girl who stays in Taiwan to pursue her dream of being a model, but never starts a real career; a traditional musician with no audience; a community-loving politician who despairs at seeing young people leaving the small cape town.
Its box office success on the island shows it has struck a chord with the enthusiasm of islanders to realize a common identity and a profound concern that they may be losing their heritage as their culture is challenged by outside fashions and influences.
The mainland release of the movie offers mainland audiences an opportunity to learn what Taiwan people think. Cape No. 7 may also triumph that it diverts mainland attention from the modern Taipei and its celebrity culture to a grassroots Taiwan.