Keep up-to-date on your favourite artists and movies, track gig and release dates, and join in the conversation.
SEARCH RESULTS FOR
review, Green Jail, Green, Jail, film, movie, latest movies, new movie, movie ratings, current movie reviews, latest films, recent movies, current movies, movie critics, new movie reviews, latest movie reviews, latest movies out, the latest movies, review film, latest cinema releases, Australian reviews, home entertainment, DVD, Blu-ray

GREEN JAIL

AN INSIGHTFUL PORTRAIT OF DISPLACEMENT

TAIWAN FILM FESTIVAL IN AUSTRALIA REVIEW
LATEST REVIEWS
By Jake Watt
20th July 2022

Originally, Japan’s Iriomote Island – located off the east coast of Taiwan - was sparsely inhabited. From 1895 to 1945, workers were imported from various parts of Japan and its then-colonies Taiwan and China. They weren’t given much information of the work they would be doing or the conditions they would be living in. Soon they would be toiling in coal mines and the island would become known as the "Green Jail", due to its thick vegetation and prison-like inescapability.

Directed by Yin-Yu Huang, the focus of this documentary is on the last living Taiwanese resident of Iriomote, 92-year-old Yoshiko Hashima. Via interviews, the director learns about the old woman’s hard life, the island’s bleak history, and the inhumane conditions in the mines up until World War II.

Hashima was the adopted daughter of the Taiwanese head miner, Yang Tien-fu, after being given up by her biological father due to a lost bet. Her family moved to the island when she was ten and, aside from a brief period when they attempted to return to Taiwan, she has lived on the island ever since. Her ramshackle wooden house appears to be fighting a losing battle against the surrounding flora and fauna. A spare room is occupied by a young American boarder named Luis. Through Hashima, the filmmaker has access to old photographs, narration, and audio recordings of Hashima’s adopted father, who recruited Taiwanese to work there. Huang also recreates scenes of the difficulties of mining life and intersperses them throughout the film.

'GREEN JAIL' TRAILER
">

"I worked very hard so that my kids could go to school. But they don’t care about me. They are so unworthy," Hashima grumbles in a cantankerous fashion. She appears to get along with Luis, an eccentric 20-something loner who assists her with grocery shopping and plays GTA V. Perhaps it’s because Luis is also an outsider, eking out an existence in a kind of perpetual state of purgatorial displacement - Hashima and her children are neither Japanese nor Taiwanese nationals, leaving them essentially stateless. Then again, maybe Hashima just wants someone to grizzle about. "I’m sorry I rented to that American. His hair is messy. He even has lice," she says later. "It’s a headache renting to a single male."

The audio records of Yang Tien-fu provide some of the film’s most eye-opening moments as he talks, unremorsefully, about hiring morphine-addicted Taiwanese workers and paying them in the drug, illegal in Taiwan but available in Japan.

The latter part of 'Green Jail' focuses on the experiences of the coal miners. The audio records of Yang Tien-fu provide some of the film’s most eye-opening moments as he talks, unremorsefully, about hiring morphine-addicted Taiwanese workers and paying them in the drug, illegal in Taiwan but available in Japan. Others became hooked on the drug after taking it to combat workplace injuries. Many miners contracted and died from malaria. Some ran away and starved to death. We see their transparent spectres haunting the forests, popping up amongst lovely shots of lush greenery by Nakatani Shungo.

Yin-Yu Huang's documentary captures the essence, the soul, of Iriomote Island, which, however many parallels it might have with prisons anywhere, was unique in the depths of its experience. Littered with moments of beauty, heavy with the inescapable regrets and as slowly paced as its 92-year-old subject, 'Green Jail' is a noble response to a bleak period in Taiwanese history.

FAST FACTS
RELEASE DATE: TBA
RUN TIME: 01h 41m
CAST: Yoshiko Hashima
Louis Leslie Kimura
DIRECTOR: Yin-Yu Huang
© 2011 - 2022 SWITCH.
All rights reserved

Support SWITCH | Disclaimer | Contact Us!