Malaysian author Tan Twan Eng teared up as he watched ‘The Garden of Evening Mists’ brought to life on big screen

‘The Garden of Evening Mists’ garnered Tan the Man Asian Literary Prize in 2012. — Reuters pic
‘The Garden of Evening Mists’ garnered Tan the Man Asian Literary Prize in 2012. — Reuters pic

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 13 — Penang-born author Tan Twan Eng could not hold back his tears while watching The Garden of Evening Mists recently, which was adapted from his sophomore novel of the same title.

The first Malaysian recipient of the Man Asian Literary Prize in 2012, Tan said he was in tears as he found The Garden of Evening Mists very powerful and moving film.

Tan, 48, admitted that he was concerned prior to watching the movie, but he heaved a huge sigh of relief as the movie managed to capture the spirit as well as to retain “the heart and soul of the novel.”

“The actors and actresses are incredibly talented, there are a lot of feelings and emotions throughout the film. They are able to make you feel the sadness, trauma and emotions of what they are going through in this poignant movie,” he told Bernama when met yesterday evening at the “Meet-the-Author” session at MPH NU Sentral here.

Tan, a lawyer-turned-author said, “The movie opens beautifully and within few moments you will be immersed in the story.

“I bet you won’t regret spending two hours watching the movie because it is going to be an enriching experience especially for the Malaysians as this film shows how beautiful our countryside is,” he added.

The film, which will hit the cinemas nationwide on Jan 16, tells the story of Teoh Yun Ling who, embittered from atrocities of World War II in Malaya, seeks solace in the rolling hills of Cameron Highlands.

While there, in her quest to build a garden, in homage of her late sister, who died at the hands of the Japanese Army, she embarks on a forbidden love affair with the mysterious Japanese gardener, Nakamura Aritomo, that will change their beliefs and past.

'The Garden of Evening Mists' cast (clockwise from top left) Tan Kheng Hua, Wan Hanafi Su, Ho Yuhang, Wong Mun Kong, Feon Lai, Serene Lim, David Oakes, Hiroshi Abe, Lee Sinje, director Tom Shu-Yu Lin and John Hannah at a press conference.
'The Garden of Evening Mists' cast (clockwise from top left) Tan Kheng Hua, Wan Hanafi Su, Ho Yuhang, Wong Mun Kong, Feon Lai, Serene Lim, David Oakes, Hiroshi Abe, Lee Sinje, director Tom Shu-Yu Lin and John Hannah at a press conference.

The movie has star-studded international cast including Taiwan-based Malaysian actress Angelica Lee Sinje, Japanese actor Hiroshi Abe, Taiwanese actress Sylvia Chang and British actor David Oakes.

The film is produced by Astro Shaw and HBO Asia with the support from the National Film Development Corporation Malaysia (Finas) in association with CJ Entertainment.

Tan penned his first novel The Gift of Rain which depicts the time of before and during the Japanese occupation and it was published in 2007, while he was doing his master’s degree in Cape Town, South Africa and the book made to 2007 Man Booker longlist.

On the other hand, The Garden of Evening Mists, published in 2012, has won the Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction in 2013, apart from being shortlisted for the 2012 Man Booker Prize, revolves in the aftermath of Japanese occupation.

His novels have been translated into various languages, among others, Spanish, Italian, Romanian, Greek, Serbian, Czech, French, German, Dutch and Polish.

When asked on why he wrote the novels based on the period of that turbulent time, Tan said he wanted to explore what happened to the people who survived the war and how do they cope with the effects of having lived through such a terrible period in the history of mankind.

“In the second novel, the reader may notice that I tried to tell the story of that period from the point of view of a woman while my first book was from the point of view of a male character,” he said.

Asked on his next project, Tan, without divulging further, said that he is in the midst of writing his third novel.

The movie has bagged home the Best Makeup & Costume Design award at the prestigious 56th Golden Horse Award last year, and it also garnered nominations in various categories, namely, Best Narrative Feature, Best Director, Best Leading Actress, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Cinematography, Best Art Direction, Best Makeup & Costume Design, Best Original Film Score, and Best Film Editing. — Bernama

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