Tea is largely based on Tea Opera by the New York-based Chinese composer Tan Dun, well-known for his Oscar-winning music for the film Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. In Tea Opera, the music of Tan Dun and the libretto by Xu Ying follow the old Book of Tea, in which tea is regarded as a metaphor for the right way of life. The philosophy behind it is that the combination of the two apparently hostile elements - water and fire, both needed to prepare tea - can lead to something positive. Analogous to making tea, on the political level, 'water' and 'fire' could and should lead to peace. It is the hypothesis expressed by Xu Ying in this documentary by Frank Scheffer. Alongside the opera part in the documentary, including conversations with Tan Dun, Xu Ying and director Pierre Audi, we see the breathtaking images of tea ceremonies, a Chinese puppet play and significant landscapes inspired by tea brought together in a montage style that is just as functional as it is decorative and occasionally almost erotic. This style does justice in all respects to Tan Dun's shamanist view of life in which everything - stone as well as a plant, a person or a tea leaf - has a soul. The film meanders continuously between culture and nature looking for the spirit of tea, as a reflection of the human soul.

Filmmaker
Frank Scheffer
Premiere
World premiere
Country
Netherlands
Year
2005
Medium
Betacam Digi PAL
Length
90’
Language
English, Mandarin
Producer
Allegri Film, Frank Scheffer, AVRO, NTR
Sales
Ideale Audience International
Cinematography
Melle van Essen, Joost van Gelder
Editor
Tom Fassaert
Sound Design
Pieter Guyt