“Island Etude” / 練習曲 / Lian xi qu – Taiwan bike movie – 100 minutes.
The Taiwan bike trip gang watched “Island Etude” during our travels. This film feels like a student project with its non-professional actors and psuedo documentary editing, but it works for the story of Ming.
Ming is a deaf college student who decides to pack his clothing and his guitar for a round the island bike tour — a Chinese walkabout on two wheels. There’s no real story besides a week’s worth of “Day In the Life” vignettes as Ming encounters friendly strangers — a fully kitted out road cyclist on his Giant (of course) road bike, a gorgeous Chinese TV actress, an even more gorgeous Lithuanian traveler, a dysfunctional family or three with unsatisfied housewives, local indigenous peoples and tribal elders with their pearls of wisdom. The film features scenery from some of the absolutely breathtaking vistas along the Taiwan eastern coast.
The movie (100 minutes) makes for a fairly mellow introduction to Taiwan culture. Reportedly, after “Island Etude” was released in 2007, Giant and Merida (the major bike suppliers in Taiwan) reported record domestic sales as thousands of young adults were inspired by the movie to experience the culture of rural Taiwan and, perhaps, meet a friendly Lithuanian traveler who needs directions to Hualien.