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An Experimental Pioneer--The Golden Era

Popularity 2Viewed 1500 times 2014-10-4 22:39 |Personal category:影评|System category:Life| describes, Chinese, popular, always, fierce

      There has always been a fierce competition in film market on the National holiday. Among all the popular films hit the cinema, the most controversial one must be The Golden Era directed by Ann Hui, which describes the mysterious and miserable life of the eminent Chinese writer Xiao Hong living in 1930s.


      Sitting in the cinema, I was caught attention by the first footage- A woman, Xiao Hong, narrated her life from cradle to grave in a tranquil and emotionless voice looking at us audience straightforwardly. This monologue style of relating seemed special and refreshing. Afterwards, a picture of Xiao's entire life gradually stretched.


      She was probably an original hippie before the Beat Movement caught on America. She ran away from her rich landowner father's home in Heilongjiang with a married cousin and when he abandoned her she became a wandering writer - moving across Beijing, Harbin, Qingdao, Wuhan, Xi'an, Chongqing, Shanghai and Tokyo, hooking up with several men.


      In the film, Xiao Hong met Xiao Jun when she was cornered in the dead end. Her gift on writing touched his string and they got in relationships soon. During the poverty-stricken wartime, they lived in a dirty shabby inn and shared one piece of bread. But they enjoyed the carefree moment they spent together. However, as time went by, something secretly changed. Maybe due to his naturally born fickle mind, he should get unfaithful to her by flirting with other girls. Feeling her heart torn apart, she endured the agony of loving him both physically and psychologically until their value towards politics totally diverged- Xiao Hong went against the tide by dissociating her writing from politics while Xiao Jun believed otherwise. He had a firm resolution of flinging himself to the war. Xiao Jun stayed in northwest Shaanxi Province to join the guerillas while Xiao Hong stayed in a relatively safer Province Xi’an.


      Being pregnant with Xiao Jun’s baby, she married another man Duanmu. Unfortunately, as coward as he always was, he abandoned her at the critical juncture, let alone be a powerful pillar for her.


      Destiny never tolerated the woman, for it favored her with a baby and then tortured her to see his death. After parting with her first baby in adoption, she seemed to have wrung out the last drop of emotions facing her second child’s gone away. Maybe she let all the grief flow between lines in her writing to keep her out of the unbearable reality.


      The most heartbreaking shots to me were her being diagnosed wrongly by a quack doctor and passing away with a pipe planted in her neck. Misfortunes never came singly, how could fate treat her so cruelly? Maybe all was due to that painstaking era of wartime during which people had nowhere to settle down but drifted all the way.


      The film’s name The Golden Era is borrowed from a letter Xiao Hong wrote to Xiao Jun when she was estranged transiently in Japan. She called it “the golden era” meaning all the peace and security she had for concentrating on writing. Though she deemed the life as was in a cage, it was indeed her golden period for writing flourish. In the film, lots of other prominent authors appeared among whom Luxun and Dingling were most familiar to us.


      I wander this film belongs to an experimental pioneer because of its unique narrative style. We can see many other literary figures describe Xiao Hong’s images in their eyes just like doing interviews in front of camera, revealing one or two pieces of Xiao Hong’s anecdotes. Being like a biography reflected from different people’s perspectives, this documentary-style was actually a daring adventure that pioneered a fresh experience for audiences. Though some fragmented scenes and frequent time-space conversion made the whole story not so sequent, the film still would be a worthy experimental pioneer in today’s commercial film market.

Xiao Hong, cast by Tang Wei 

(Opinions of the writer in this blog don't represent those of China Daily.)




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