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Crossing the Borders: An Eco-cinecritical Analysis of Plant Wars and Bird Without Borders

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Abstract:

This essay reads two Asian nature-oriented films from the perspective of ecocinecriticism,an ecologically minded film criticism. Plant Wars, produced by PTSTaiwan, questions the demarcation between native plants and exotic plants as well asbetween plants and human beings so as to remap the in-between border area. Thestorytelling method it applies is to feature 14 currently native plants as the maincharacters, and illustrates their relationship to aboriginal people, farmers, beekeepersand to other insect species. Bird Without Borders, also produced by PTS, tells the storyof the migration journey of a group of black-faced spoonbills flying 16,000 kilometersall the way from Tainan, Taiwan, to Japan, along the border of South and North Korea,to a remote island of China to look for feeding places and then back to Taiwan to spendthe winter. Different layers of border-crossing are shown in Bird. One similarity ofthese two PTS productions is the search for border-crossing so as to redefine or revisewhat the border means. Plant questions the biological categorization of the native plantsand the exotic plants; Bird illustrates how the crew physically follows the route of thebirds’ flight which crosses the national borders to provide a vision of remapping thenatural territory through challenging the idea of a fixed “place.” Both are seeking forways to trespass the man-made borders: Plant via environmental imagination; Bird viasome physical movement. While the title of Plant Wars seemingly expresses its positionmore strongly through “wars,” Bird Without Borders explicitly asserts a dream of noborders.

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