Grow up quick, things will get better when you’re older. 快快长,长大就好了。

by zee

I had not expected The Golden Era to last more than 2.5 hours. I was late for my appointment. My butt was sore from sitting.

At the very beginning we were told how long (in a way) the movie will last – in a haunting, almost deja vu-like black and white portrayal of Xiao Hong 萧红 (Tang Wei 汤唯), she told us she was born in 1911 and died in 1942.


Instead of the usual timeline (be it linear, parallel or just jumping around), the director Ann Hui 许鞍华 took an experimental approach to shoot in a documentary style, her past lovers, friends and acquaintances looked straight into the camera to give a narrative of Xiao Hong’s life.

If this movie was shot as objective as it was, then I believe this narrative style somehow portrays how private and lonely Xiao Hong was. Many details of her personal lives were not depicted, either they chose not to disclose them; or that they really didn’t know her that well after all.

And also, perhaps due to this reason, I did not feel any sense of involvement in her life, as if I am watching a disaster unfolding on TV news. It was so distant: I could not feel what Xiao Hong was feeling – when she left her family; when she was abandoned by the first 2 men in her life; when her second child died of “convulsions”; nor could I know her as a real human instead of just knowing the events in her life.

Xiao Hong was born in Heilongjiang province in a traditional Chinese landowner household, not a happy family, it seemed. Her grandpa told her that things will get better when she grew up.


A free-spirit who strongly believed in her literary passion despite restrictions and limitations – she would fit very well in today’s modern society; but definitely be scorned during her time. Xiao Hong loved freely and she wrote freely. It seemed as if she had a no-strings-attached life – but she was trapped in her own emotions, dominated by her feelings. I figured she might not even be able to take good care of herself well if not for her partners at that time.

That trait of her is, perhaps, the reason why she is able to write prose with such attention to details and emotions that could only come from a sensitive soul.

“我很奇怪作为一个作家的她,为什么会那样少于世故,大概女人都容易保有纯洁和幻想,或者也就同时显得有些稚嫩和软弱的缘故吧。” ——丁玲《风雨中忆萧红》

The movie placed focus on her romantic life with very few mentions of her literary works. What we could gather are only bits and pieces of her works that was narrated throughout the movie.