RE CNA story 5/25/10 on Harrison Ford movie in The China Post
Dear Harrison Ford,
As one of the great actors of the 20th century (and maybe the 21st century as well), you are very much admired by film-goers in Taiwan and all of Asia — in fact, all over the world. However, in a movie released earlier this year titled “Extraordinary Measures,” based on a book titled “The Cure,” you inexplicably cast yourself as an Asian medical practioner who comes up with a cure for the rare Pompe disease. In the script and in the movie, however, you changed the name and nationality of the real person who came up with the cure — Dr Yuan-tsong Chen of Taiwan — into a white American research scientist named “Robert Stonehill.”
Harrison Ford, you need to explain yourself. Sure, movies are movies, and Hollywood is Hollywood. But to take the real-life medical work of a Taiwanese scientist and turn it into a Hollywood medical thriller that is not “true” is what cultural imperialism is all about.
I am sure you had the best of intentions, and I am sure you are a nice guy, and I am sure you respect Dr Chen for his real-life work that made your movie possible, but do you have anything to say for yourself, now that you know that Dr Chen himself is ambivalent about the movie you made of his life? He recently told the media in Taiwan that he had “mixed feelings” about seeing the movie after its DVD release in Taiwan.
Imagine, Mr Ford, that some Taiwanese film studio made a movie about Albert Einstein’s discovery of the theory of relativity, but rather than use a European or North American actor, the Taiwanese scriptwriter re-wrote the role of Einstein for an Asian actor and changed Dr Einstein’s name to Dr Chen? Is that kosher in your playbook? Mr Ford, you owe a huge apology to movie fans around the world (and an explanation) for what you did and why you did it.
I am sure the editor of this magazine, Trista, will give you space on this page to answer my letter to you — in your own words.