Yi Yi (2000)

Brief Intro

‘Yi Yi,’ directed by Edward Yang, is a poignant Taiwanese drama that delves into the lives of a middle-class family in Taipei. Through its nuanced storytelling and intricate character development, the film explores themes of existential contemplation, familial bonds, and the passage of time. Yang’s masterful direction creates a deeply introspective cinematic experience that resonates on multiple levels.

Literary Devices Used in Yi Yi

In ‘Yi Yi,’ Edward Yang employs a rich tapestry of literary devices to weave a narrative that is both intimate and universal. Here are ten key literary devices with specific examples from the film:


Movie SceneDevice Example
NJ and Sherry’s reunionThe letter NJ keeps symbolizes unresolved feelings and the passage of time.
Yang-Yang’s photographsThe photos symbolize the search for truth and understanding from different perspectives.


Movie SceneDevice Example
Grandma’s illnessHer initial fainting spells foreshadow the family’s impending emotional struggles.
NJ’s business dealThe uncertainty in NJ’s business dealings foreshadows his later professional and personal crises.


Movie SceneDevice Example
Min-Min’s retreatDespite seeking spiritual solace, Min-Min feels more disconnected and lost.
NJ’s nostalgiaNJ reminisces about past happiness while ignoring present familial connections.


Movie SceneDevice Example
Running waterWater appears frequently, symbolizing life’s continuous flow and change.
Windows and reflectionsUsed to show characters’ internal reflections and the divide between their inner and outer worlds.


Movie SceneDevice Example
Yang-Yang’s fish tankThe fish in the tank represent the confinement and limited perspective of the characters.
NJ’s Jazz recordsJazz music symbolizes the complexity and improvisational nature of life.


Movie SceneDevice Example
NJ’s memories of SherryFlashbacks are used to explore NJ’s past and his lingering emotions.
Min-Min’s recollectionsMin-Min recalls her youth, adding depth to her current existential crisis.


Movie SceneDevice Example
NJ and Ting-Ting’s parallel strugglesTheir experiences are juxtaposed to highlight generational differences in dealing with problems.
Taipei city life vs. quiet momentsThe bustling city scenes contrast with quiet family moments, emphasizing internal vs. external chaos.


Movie SceneDevice Example
NJ and Yang-Yang’s conversationTheir discussions reveal deep philosophical insights and generational wisdom.
Ting-Ting and Fatty’s chatsTheir dialogues uncover the complexities of young love and personal growth.


Movie SceneDevice Example
Min-Min’s monologueShe speaks to her comatose mother-in-law, expressing her existential fears.
NJ’s introspectionNJ’s private reflections reveal his inner conflicts and desires.


Movie SceneDevice Example
Yang-Yang’s film projectHis project serves as an allegory for the search for truth and self-discovery.
The wedding and funeralThese events bookend the film, allegorically representing life’s cyclical nature.

Character Analysis Through Literary Devices

Character Studies

Literary DeviceExplanation
NJSymbolism: NJ’s jazz records symbolize his yearning for freedom and escape from mundane realities. Flashbacks: His memories of Sherry reveal his unresolved feelings and the impact of past choices on his present.
Min-MinMonologue: Her soliloquy to her mother-in-law highlights her existential despair and search for meaning. Irony: Despite seeking peace at a spiritual retreat, she returns more lost and disconnected.
Yang-YangMetaphor: His photographs symbolize his quest for understanding and truth from different perspectives. Dialogue: Conversations with NJ reveal his innocent yet profound insights on life.
Ting-TingJuxtaposition: Her experiences are contrasted with NJ’s to highlight generational approaches to problems. Dialogue: Her interactions with Fatty explore themes of young love and personal growth.

Character Dynamics

The relationships in ‘Yi Yi’ drive the narrative and themes forward. NJ’s complex relationship with Sherry underscores themes of lost love and unfulfilled potential. Min-Min’s struggle with her role in the family highlights the theme of existential searching. Yang-Yang’s interactions with his family reveal a child’s innocent pursuit of truth. Ting-Ting’s romantic and familial relationships illustrate the turbulence of adolescence and the search for identity.

Thematic Analysis

Family and Connection

Literary DeviceExplanation
SymbolismYang-Yang’s photos symbolize the fragmented perspectives within the family.
JuxtapositionContrasting scenes of family togetherness and isolation highlight the theme of connection.

Existential Contemplation

Literary DeviceExplanation
MonologueMin-Min’s soliloquy to her mother-in-law delves into her existential crisis.
MetaphorNJ’s jazz records symbolize the complexity and unpredictability of life.

Passage of Time

Literary DeviceExplanation
FlashbacksNJ’s memories of Sherry explore the impact of past choices on the present.
AllegoryThe wedding and funeral bookending the film represent life’s cyclical nature.

Cinematic Techniques That Enhance Literary Devices

Visual and Sound Techniques

Literary DeviceTechniqueExplanation
SymbolismVisual motifs (e.g., water, reflections)Enhance themes of continuity and introspection.
DialogueNaturalistic sound designCreates an immersive environment that underscores the authenticity of conversations.
MetaphorCinematography (e.g., framing, angles)Yang-Yang’s photography scenes use framing to metaphorically explore perspective and truth.
JuxtapositionEditing (e.g., parallel scenes)Contrasting bustling city life with quiet family moments to emphasize internal vs. external chaos.

Key Scene Analysis

Scene Selection and Breakdown

  1. NJ and Sherry’s Reunion
  2. Min-Min’s Monologue
    • YouTube Link: Min-Min’s Monologue Scene
    • Analysis: Her soliloquy to her comatose mother-in-law highlights her existential despair, enhanced by the intimate cinematography and quiet sound design.
  3. Yang-Yang’s Photograph Exhibition


To wrap up, here’s a fun and interactive quiz to test your understanding of the literary devices used in ‘Yi Yi’:

Multiple Choice Quiz

  1. What device is primarily used in Yang-Yang’s photography scenes?
  2. Which literary device is highlighted in Min-Min’s monologue?
  3. How does the film use water as a motif?
    • A) To symbolize clarity and purity
    • B) To represent life’s continuous flow and change
    • C) As a metaphor for freedom
    • D) To foreshadow future events
  4. What theme is explored through NJ’s relationship with Sherry?
    • A) Familial bonds
    • B) Existential searching
    • C) Lost love and unfulfilled potential
    • D) The passage of time

Answer key:

  1. B) Metaphor
  2. C) Soliloquy
  3. B) To represent life’s continuous flow and change
  4. C) Lost love and unfulfilled potential