Adapted from Pai Hsien-yung’s Short Story
In 1963, after his mother had passed away the previous year, Pai Hsien-yung left Taiwan to attend the International Writers’ Worksop at the University of Iowa. His father saw him off at the airport, and that was the last time he would ever see him. Pai Hsien-yung was deeply influenced by both his parents, espeically his father, for whom years later he would write the biography My Father and the Rebpulic (China Times Publishing, 2012). In the years immediately following his mother’s death, he had been too pained to write, until a trip to Chicago inspired him to write Death in Chicago in 1964, which marked the maturity of his literary skills. Taipei People, focused on émigrés and lives stranded by the times, was born in this matured period of his literary endeavors.
Taipei People was not about the people of Taipei at the time of the book’s publication (1971), but about people who emigrated to Taiwan from China in the 1950s and the ups and downs of their lives in a historic time. The book is a collection of fourteen short stories, each different in length and style, but all of them masterpieces. There is The Eternal Snow Beauty, about a socialite from Shanghai who continues her career in Taipei; there is Wandering in the Garden, Waking from a Dream, in which Pai employs his deep grasp of classical culture and the stream-of-consciousness technique to peer into the dreams and disillusions of the wives of prominent figures of a bygone era; and A Touch of Green, about air force pilots and the wistful love stories and lives cut short by their careers.More About Pai Hsien-yung
“Taipei People and My Father and the Republic are connected. One is literature, the other is history. Taipei People tells the vicissitudes of history through literature, whereas My Father and the Republic is a historic account of that history. These two books can also be mutually complementary. Readers may gain a better understanding of the context if they read the two together.”—— Pai Hsien-yung
The TV series was four years in the making. A script with 837 scenes and 450,000 Chinese characters was derived from the 10,000-character original story. The 27 main production locations were spread across Taipei, Taoyuan, Yilan, Hsinchu, Miaoli, Taichung, Chiayi, Tainan and Kaohsiung in Taiwan, and Shanghai and Nanjing in China. The 31.5-hour series involved 300 credited actors and more than 2000 background actors, 200 post-production professionals both in Taiwan and abroad, 700 film camera lenses, 600 lenses for 3D computer graphics…and the biggest typhoon in Shanghai since 1949.
The challenges began with the choice of an air force-themed story, for which the crew built a hangar, two-and-a-half P-51 Mustang fighters, and two military dependents’ villages. Building animation models and completing 3D renderings was another vast project. Then there was the research and recreation of clothes, props and settings for the period between 1945 and 1981. Finally, after shooting for seven months and ten days, A Touch of Green concluded filming on October 20, 2015.
For the production team, to make a drama series like this with a big budget seemed like a dream, but it was also a huge responsibility. Now that it is done, all that’s left is for it to be seen for ages to come.
Huang Shih-ming graduated from the Department of Communication Arts at the Chaoyang University of Technology and received a master’s degree in screenwriting and theory from the Beijing Film Academy’s Department of Literature. He won the Excellent Screenplay Award from the Government Information Office for Long Vacation, and won a TV-movie grant from the Broadcasting Development Foundation of the GIO for Step by Step. Deep Breath (written with Kuo Chen-ti) received a film grant from the GIO. He collaborated with director Hirofumi Kawaguchi on the screenplay for the Japanese film Rail Truck. Other TV credits include serving as head writer for the series Home (nominated for Best Screenplay of the Golden Bell Awards) and co-writer (with Tsai Hsiu-nu) for The Rice, broadcast on the Hakka Television Station.
“A Touch of Green is a story about Taiwan told by the Taiwanese people. That is why I decided to take up the task.”——Screenwriter Huang Shih-ming
Tsao Jui-yuan graduated from the Department of Radio, Television and Film of Shih Hsin University. He was a cinematographer and documentary maker before getting his start in drama. He is mostly involved in making TV series and has been nominated many times for the Golden Bell Awards. In 2003 he adapted Pai Hsien-yung’s novel Crystal Boys into an eponymous TV series, winning wide attention and garnering several awards at the 38th Golden Bell Awards. In 2005 he adapted another one of Pai’s works, Love’s Lone Flower from Taipei People, into both a TV series and movie, again winning in several categories at the 40th Golden Bell Awards. After making A Touch of Green in 2015, he followed up with Public Television’s historic drama series Lady the Butterfly.
“I originally thought of this as a battle or a revolution. Gradually I came to see it as just a process, one that would make us better and stronger.”——Director Tsao Jui-yuan
Soon after Guo Zhen and Zhu Qing marry, the peace talks between the Nationalists and the communists break down and a civil war ensues. The P-51 Mustangs of the 11th Fighter Group fly by the military dependents’ village and dip their planes in a “wing wave” before flying off into the distance. As the men of the 11th Fighter Group fly in and out of hell, so the women of the village get a glimpse of hell. As the war fought by the men ends, the war between the women has just begun. Yet although they have betrayed and hurt each other, the women stick with each other as their rouge fades and the years creep onto their faces. Men who battle and bleed in the sky cannot see the dynasty for which they fight; it is the women who see and bear witness to the rubble after cities have fallen.
“Trust me. Wherever I am, I will remember my direction. You are my navigation tower. I will always fly back to you.”——Guo Shen
Xiao Zhou(played by Tien Hsin)
An air force widow, known as Mrs. Deputy Commander. Her late husband was the deputy commander of the 11th Fighter Group. After he died in action while fighting against Japan, she followed the air force tradition and remarried, this time to his lower class cadet, Xiao Shao.
Qin Qian-yi(played by Cheryl Yang)
Qin Qian-yi married the commander of the 11th Fighter Group Jiang Wei-cheng on the eve of the war and gave up her education. Gentle-mannered but full of resilience, she oversees everything in the military village.
Zhu Qing(played by Lian Yu-han)
A student from the Jinling College, with dreams of love, Zhu Qing arrives in Nanjing because of a slip of paper left behind by air force pilot Guo Zhen. She had simply been curious what the pilot might look like, but once they met and fell in love, she dropped out from school, married him and moved into the air force dependents’ village. All that awaited her, however, was a life without coordinates.
Jiang Wei-cheng(played by Leroy Young)
Air force group commander. After the victory against Japan, he had been respected and admired. Yet after moving to Taiwan, he was confronted with a life of modest means and feelings of desolation and helplessness. As such, he symbolizes the fate of so many during those turbulent times.
Guo Zhen(played by Chris Wu)
Dropped out of school during the war to join the military. Faced with the uncertainty of every flight mission, he developed a devil-may-care attitude towards life.
Shao Zhi-jian(played by Lan Jun-tian)
Deputy commander of the 11 th Fighter Group. He always misses critical opportunities because of his indecisiveness. When the original deputy commander went on a flight mission in his place and was killed, he followed air force tradition and his comrade’s wishes, giving up his relationship with his girlfriend and “inherited” the deputy commander’s widow and daughter. From then on, he lived a life caught between his responsibilities and his true love.
Air Force Command Headquarters Director Fan Ren-hsien(played by Fan Guang-yao)
Director Fan is a war veteran who seems to rule with an iron first, but often helps clean up the mess left behind by the 11 th Fighter Group.
Lao Gong(played by Ban Tie-xiang)
Machinist sergeant of the 11 th Fighter Group. He is the go-to person when your plane is missing a part. Of course, what he won’t tell you is that it was stolen from another fighter group.
Mo Ting(played by Jenny Wen)
Smart and precocious, she has already seen too much of the separation and death of those chaotic times.
Xiao Gu(played by Hans Chung)
When he joins the 11 th Fighter Group he meets Zhu Qing, who has already married Guo Zhen. He discovers that the note that brought Zhu and Guo together was actually written by him.
Jiao Fei(played by Toby Li)
Second-generation resident of the military village. He joins the Air Force Preparatory School to become a pilot and serve his country.
“A Touch of Green captures the story of real lives that epitomize a painful history, a past that the younger generation has difficulty understanding today.” ——Public Television Service General Manager Chiu Yue
Language: Mandarin Chinese Subtitles: Traditional Chinese
Screen format: 16:9 Duration: 60 mins x 31 episodes
The complete screenplay plus full-color set photos and behind the scenes stories