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“The Wedding Banquet” by Ang Lee Essay

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Updated: Jan 5th, 2022


The movie under consideration is called The Wedding Banquet directed by Ang Lee. First appeared in movie theatres in 1993 it surprised the audience with the shocking details of different facets of this life never openly discussed across the world. The movie is about a couple of young people who decide to get married to get a green card for the bride. However, the extraordinary essential thing about the plot of the film is that the main hero – Wai Tung – is gay. This is becoming the main problem of the movie because the parents of the guy desperately want him to get married to a nice girl.

Brief Synopsis

An innovative trait of the movie of the late 90s is that the director himself appears in his masterpiece. The famous director played a cameo to present a fine explanation of what was going on during the banquet. He makes it clear at once that all those Chinese people were making up for “5,000 years of sexual repression”. This is a great comedy with a perfect plot to laugh at. Moreover, the director’s insight is indeed much deeper than the simple hard drinking. Most of his movies are based on keeping some kind of secret, revealing of which would subsequently entail the death of the secret holders, not seriously, of course.

The parents travel to New York to get acquainted with the girl who is going to become the wife of their son. They want to find out if she fits the role of a mother since they think it is time to have grandchildren. Hence, the fake couple is struggling to cope with all the problems appearing on their way after the parents’ invasion in their life. The only thing they are dreaming of now is this torture to end as soon as possible and return to their normal lives. Of course, this causes different misunderstandings and funny scenes for the viewers to have much fun when watching the comedy.

Of course, Wai-tung goes through different kinds of soul torments when deceiving his parents. Wei Wei in her turn faces many troubles, too. Her inner world can be compared to the rollercoaster of emotions because she is so happy living through this farce and is so afraid to be left out by Wai-tung after this all ends.

Meanwhile, the parents demand a more luxurious wedding rather than the one at the city hall. This is where the director’s utmost skills are unveiled. It has to be noticed that The Wedding Banquet was the director’s first attempt to put his voice into the story. He speaks on behalf of a casual storyteller who tends to explain everything that takes place in the movie.

The Subject Idea

The sexual repression made the director shoot great movies. Some of them shook the inside world of some of the viewers due to frank scenes that appeared in the history of cinema for the first time. Of course, this could have been considered a dirty attempt to spoil the entire movie, however, the number of awards gotten by the director for his works speak for themselves. The beautifully and professionally made film The Wedding Banquet, based on the theme of sexual repression never aroused a feeling of disgust. The audience gets a chance to see the comedy of manners that represents the traditions of Taiwanese people in terms of sexual and family relations. Moreover, the movie is filled up with a ting of dark humour, emotions, and never seen before on-screen sexual relations of the gay couple; this attracts and makes you think that you didn’t waste your money when bought a ticket or a DVD. To be more exact, the movie’s main leitmotif is the family’s dramas. To outline exactly what is meant by the drama of the couples depicted in a movie it is essential to know the stories that intersect the plot. The film describes Wai-Tung and Simon who happen to be deeply in love which each other and feel comfortable with the life circumstances. However, there are parents of Wai-Tung who would love their son to tie the marriage knot. It is to be said here they have no idea about the relationships of Wai during the past five years. To stop these tortures of the parents the main hero decides to arrange a fake marriage. Luckily for the parents, and unfortunately for Wai-Tung, there is a girl artist who lives in Brooklyn Warehouse illegally and hence needs and green card.

The Techniques

The techniques of the director are truly amazing. According to the director of the movie we can explicitly see that there is still no way for homosexuals to express their essence in public. It is better to keep hiding such relationships for the sake of homosexuals; hence the society is not entirely ready to accept such ways of life of others. For the audience to come to this kind of conclusion the director made everything possible to create a fantastically hilarious situation of the society’s non-acceptance of homosexual forms of love. Namely, the lie that is the core of this movie is restrained to the utmost by the protagonists, therefore showing that there is no other solution except hiding. The movie could have been deservedly called a simple comedy; however, Lee made use of over-the-top pomp to demonstrate the absurdity of the banquet along with the tragedy of heterosexual wedding tradition. (Lee, p.128).

The Thesis of the Movies Alike

There are other prominent works on the same topic idea like Tongues Untied (Marlon Riggs, 1990), Poison (Todd Haynes, 2001) and Go Fish (Rose Troche, 1994). These were the movie that dealt openly even sometimes aggressively with the queer culture, identities, and their place in society. The thesis of The Wedding Banquet is the overwhelming traditions that worship authority and the weight of generations. Moreover, the quality of The Wedding Banquet is evidently higher and much better than other queer movies that were released in the 1990s. This amazing how a straight director could make such a movie that appeals to a queer audience so amazingly perfectly. Afterwards, in one of the interviews, Lee would remark lots of similarities between his own life experience and that implementation in the movie. For example, his mother crying during the ceremony at the city hall or his father’s unemotional face.: my mother always cries. (Lee, the Wedding Banquet) That and much more was taken from Lee’s real-life and wedding situations. Though not everything is rendered from his own life, the idea with the marriage of convenience banquet was significantly ripe for the 1990s.


The play of actors is alive and vivid. There is no place for yawning when watching a movie. Once again the quality is better than all other movies shot on the same subject in the 90s. Hence it is very interesting and funny to watch it with friends. The director made it all possible for the viewer to live the ploy through. The actual topic is common worldwide, therefore the movie gained much resonance among the public from all over the world because almost every person feels obligated to satisfy his/her parents’ demands. The important thing is the Lee talks about a very debatable and burning topic that arouses many controversial feelings in the hearts of contemporary youth. What is significant is that he wraps it up with humour and satire that making this message easy to convey to the public.

The film is full of emotions and various interesting things to get to know. You simply educate yourself with different traditions’ shortcomings when watching the two nations – Taiwan and Chinese – get along together. This is amazing how you start thinking of the issues you have never thought about before. Just like the director, who himself is a heterosexual telling a story about homosexuals and the problems they have to overcome in this society throughout the world. There is no doubt that was the greatest comedy of its times since it gathered so much public in cinemas and brought up the never-mentioned-before subject. This was a certain breakthrough covered with a veil of superb humour. Watching The Wedding Banquet is a nice choice for spending the night and upraising. There is no doubt everyone would like it disregarding the sexual belonging since the movie touches upon commonly known facts and topics especially being so humorous to watch.

Works Cited

Lee, Ang. Two Films by Ang Lee Eat Drink Man Woman & The Wedding Banquet. New York, Overlook TP: 1994. Print.

Lee, Ang. The Wedding Banquet (1993). Winston Chao, May Chin. 20th Century Fox. 108 Minutes. 2007.

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