Ang Lee said this during an interview about the making of Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon. I think many of his movies have dealt with the relationship between tradition and modernity as well as the hidden emotions within the relationship of the self. He has an intuitive sense of the human condition and chooses to explore its intricacies. If I could use a yoga expression, I believe his movies make us think less and feel more…our true intelligence originates not in our mind where there is so much unreal thoughts, but rather our heart, where we can feel the sensations and understand our place, and our alignment with the elements around us.
What makes a strong woman character? In my book, Inside the River, I have written two strong women characters who parallel, magically interact, and learn from each other even though Ana is set in a world no longer and Emma is set in today’s world. I think the strength of their character rests, not in the success or failure of their life, but rather their reaction to the current of their lives. Grace and the yearning for grace permeates my book as defined by the “simple elegance or refinement of movement.” And here is where I hold the vision of Ang Lee making the movie version of my book (although he doesn’t know it yet). He has visualized that unfettered expression of grace which we all strive for inside the moments of our lives.
It would be simpler to break it down into success or failure, happiness or anger, fear or love, triumphant or hopeless…but I think the depth of characters both on screen and on the page becomes limitless when we explore how the character tries to refine herself, the process of removing unwanted impurities, whether it be other people, a situation, or the negative thinking that is so toxic to well being. The strength comes, not from the success of feeling grace, but the striving for it, and oftentimes the failure in that attempt.
We want her to feel peace, to overcome the conflict and rise above and we forgive her when she fumbles. We become invested in her display of strength even in a silent moment or the steadying of a trembling hand. There is also a part for us, the reader of the book and the movie audience. We are the witnesses, the recorders, the messengers of the story. We are in the darkness but for the light to know itself, it must enter a dark room. That is a strong woman character, for me at least. She learns that she is the light.
What is a strong woman character for you?