La Grande Chaumière Violette (紫色大稻埕) is a wonderful Taiwanese TV series, directed by Nelson Yeh (葉天倫), that you can stream on Netflix. It displays life in Taiwan during its turbulent 1920s–the period when Taiwan was under Japanese imperial rule, which lasted from 1895 until 1945. The dialogue is mainly spoken in Taiwanese Hokkien, Japanese, and Mandarin.
Past time = 1920s
Present time = 1980 — Xin Xong (Yi An’s son) shows Yi An’s old letters to Xuehu. Xuehu is Yi An’s male childhood friend. Xuehu discovers that Yi An passed away last year.
The story is based in Twatutia (a transliteration of the Taiwanese Hokkien, Tōa-tiū-tiâ,) but at that time is called Dadaocheng (大稻埕). This famous district is where many social/political movements took place and where many local artists gathered. The Twatutia Wharf on the Tamsui (Danshui) River was an important trading place in the 19th century–the sprawling center where tea, medicine, herbs, fabrics, and other goods entered Taipei. This district is known for its rich history, local cuisine, and also being the center of the February 28 Massacre.
The focus is in the friendship between Guo Xuehu and Jiang Yi An, who are both high school students in the 1920s. They have a great passion for the arts and to protect their rights as Taiwanese citizens. Through them, you see the importance of student activism throughout history to influence movements and embark greater social change.
The characters in this series are are based on real people. The story follows the life of Guo Xuehu, who is based off of the real Taiwanese pioneering gouache painter, Kuo Hsueh-Hu, who left a major impact on Taiwan’s development of modern fine arts.
This series is not only entertaining, but it covers many significant historical events throughout Taiwan’s history, and gives a fascinating snapshot into the lives of Taiwanese during the early 1900s.
Please give it a watch!