Tsai Ming-liang's The River (1997) is the third and most devastating of his initial film trilogy focusing on lonely young Taipei resident Hsiao-Kang and his dysfunctional family. The film rigorously captures the nooks and crannies of urban Taipei. Hsiao-Kang happens upon a film shoot in which the director needs to film a corpse floating in the highly polluted Tamshui River. Hsiao-Kang volunteers for the role and later develops a mysterious chronic and worsening injury to his neck. The rest of the film traces his efforts to get healed. Tsai Ming-liang showed just how rigorous and uncompromising a director he would prove to be throughout his career, anticipating controversial masterpieces such as Goodbye Dragon Inn and Wayward Cloud.
This film is part of the Moving Image Studies film series Space, Body, Sound. This series was programmed by film studies faculty for the Northrop Grand Opening with reference to Northrop's focus on the performing arts.