Taiwan recently entered the headlines because of its disappointing public vote against same-sex marriage, but it remains one of Asia’s most LGBTQ-friendly countries. In fact, a new film entitled The Story of the Stone shows a steamy side of Taiwan’s popular gay scene while modernizing a Chinese literary classic.
The Story of the Stone is a modern film adaptation of the 1791 Chinese novel Dream of the Red Chamber, a story about two influential branches of a wealthy family and the friendships and romantic rivalries that culminate as they rise and fall from the emperor’s favor.
The novel has been praised as one of China’s “Four Great Classical Novels” and is renowned for its huge cast of characters and its sophisticated depictions of Asian culture.
The film seems primed for sensationalism and potentially problematic depictions though as a “raw and explicit story filled with drug abusing, orgy parties and Taiwanese contemporary gay scene.” Nevertheless, its creators say that under its portrayal of a “gay men’s decadent lifestyle in Taipei … there is a tale about despair, incarnation and most importantly, a glimmer of hope when all seems lost.”
The movie reportedly takes place at Red House, a historic theatre that is also a Taipei gay landmark, and will feature “twelve hunky ‘beaus’” serving as the modern counterpart for the original novel’s 12 “blushing beauties.” Two of the characters are reportedly HIV-positive.
Here’s the steamy trailer from The Story of the Stone:
It makes sense that this new piece of Taiwanese gay cinema capitalizes on the sexier, lurid aspects of gay life — much emerging gay cinema in America has attempted to draw viewers with soft-core sexiness too. But it remains to be seen whether The Story of the Stone will rise above its sexiness to convey something authentic and new.
The film itself was an official selection of QFest Houston, the Taiwan International Queer Film Festival and Taiwan Film Festival in Sydney. Following its October 2018 debut however, it’s still only available for streaming in Asian countries.
American viewers will have to wait until they can experience this modern Dream of the Red Chamber for themselves.