‘I fear we have awoken a sleeping giant and filled him with terrible resolve.’ It is the reputed quote of Japanese Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto, following the 1941 Pearl Harbour attack. One wonders whether he meant the US or did he mean China, for the attack prompted an Asian conflict that saw Japan overrun Hong Kong, Singapore and the Philippines.
Chinese society dates back long before European civilization and even before those of the Middle East. Confucius wrote his sayings in a lifetime that stretched from 551 BC to 479 BC and was born in an era when government, manufacture and culture were already well advanced. Europe would take nearly two thousand years to catch up. Despite this long history of culture, Europeans treated the Chinese as primitively subservient. The British Empire took advantage of international trade to leave the Chinese population dependent upon Opium and in wars of the same name, Chinese society was openly humiliated. It spurred a long term revolution whereby the population rose against the corrupt Qing dynasty.
Sun Yat-sen was the father of this uprising, which, though set back by the Japanese occupation, followed a relentless course in history, leading to the formation of the People’s Republic of China in October 1949. The consequences of China’s re-awakening profoundly affected global society. Whether it be the philosophy of Mao or influence of the KMT Triads, the twentieth is a century globally impacted by the rise in Chinese influence. In moving into the twenty first, China’s industrial, financial and military might is likely to end up overshadowing their earlier colonial masters.
Our story follows this trend and begins in the interwar period where Camila finds her chances of survival compromised, which drives her life in a direction, not originally desired. She escapes the Japanese occupation of Hong Kong, but emotionally she is left in tatters. We catch up with her in the late fifties when she finds herself imprisoned within a loveless destiny. Through her self-pity, she fails to engage in life and finds herself falling into bottomless despair. In counterpart, we meet her daughter Estrela who like her mother finds herself victim, but this time to an age of enlightenment where the line between sorrow and pleasure is a delicate one. Banyan Veil is a study on how historic events dominate and drive individual peoples’ lives and behind all, lies the pervading influence of nature, Taoist religion, and Confucian philosophy.