Requiem for Beauty – The cinematic art of Nobel laureate Gao Xingjian


Le titre vient d’un long poème, une réflexion sur notre temps. Le sens du beau a disparu, remplacé par la mode, la consommation, la même dans le monde entier. Le goût de la pub a remplacé l’art. Le film est un hommage à la richesse du patrimoine universel. ──Gao Xingjian

The title comes from a lengthy poem, a reflection of our time. The sense of beauty is gone, replaced by fashion and consumerism – it’s the same all over the world. The public’s taste replaces the art. The film is a tribute to the richness and legacy of our universal origin. ──Gao Xingjian

Gao Xingjian, the first Chinese Nobel laureate for literature, is a writer, playwright, painter, photographer, and director of film and theatre. Followed by The Edge of Reality: Gao Xingjian Solo Exhibition in Asia Art Center in 2013, Gao Xingjian comes to Taiwan again to launch premiere of his film “Requiem for Beauty” and celebrate his new book “Freedom and Literature”.

The cinematic poem “Requiem For Beauty” comes from his poetry collection. It departs from traditional film narratives and includes poetry, paintings, monologues in Chinese, French and English. Shot mainly in his studio in Paris, it incorporates video footage of his travels – from the neon- lit streets of Tokyo to the coasts of Ireland. A total of 40 actors were involved in the film, they include stage actors, dancers and non-professional actors, each takes on the role of Poet, Venice Goddess, the Thinker, Virgin Mary, Death, and God. Without translation subtitles, this film forces the audience to experience the purity of visual impact directly through opening up all our senses.

In a globalised world of commoditized culture, the fight for independence remains a daunting task for writers and artists. One challenge was that he did not want the actors in Requiem For Beauty to give naturalistic performances, but to be blatantly arty and theatrical, “so that every shot can be like the composition of a painting”. He also adds that the film is inspired by his care-free life in France, and it will be “the sort of independent movie that cannot be found in the commercial market”. From Venice Carnival, Louvre and Catacombes of Paris, Prague Old Town, to skyscrapers of New York, Hong Kong and Tokyo, Requiem For Beauty poses the question of our time after we’ve buried the “beauty”.

The new book “Freedom and Literature” is an anthology of Gao Xingjian’s important speeches. In this book he answers to the question of why literature cannot save the world and how the significance of it lays in pointing out the predicament of our awareness being restricted by ideology, social media and technology.

Cinematic Poem “Requiem For Beauty”


Screening I : Taipei Fine Arts Museum

Venue: Taipei Fine Arts Museum (No.181, Sec. 3, Zhongshan N. Rd., Zhongshan Dist., Taipei City 10461)

Date: April 19th, 2014 (Sat.)

Time: 14:30 “Requiem For Beauty” (14:00~14:20 Admission)

Screening II: National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts

Venue: National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts lecture hall (No. 2, Section 1, Wǔquán West Rd, Xi District, Taichung City, 403)

Date: April 20th, 2014 (Sun.)

Time: 14:30 “Requiem For Beauty” (14:00~14:20 Admission)

Screening & Forum III National Taiwan Normal University

Venue: National Taiwan Normal University auditorium (162, Heping East Road Section 1, Taipei, Taiwan)

Date: April 23rd, 2014 (Wed.)

Time: 09:00-17:10 (08:30 Admission)

Screening III: National Taiwan Normal University

Venue: National Taiwan Normal University auditorium (162, Heping East Road Section 1, Taipei, predicament Taiwan)

Date: April 23rd, 2014 (Wed.)

Time: 13:30 “Requiem For Beauty” (13:00~13:20 Admission)


Organizers│National Taiwan Normal University, National Palace Museum

Co-organizers│National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts, Taipei Fine Arts Museum

Administration│NTNU Graduate Institute of Performing Arts