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.

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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.

快快长,长大就好了。

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.

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太阳在院子里是特大的,天空是特别高的,太阳的光芒四射,亮得使人睁不开眼睛,亮得蚯蚓不敢钻出地面来,蝙蝠不敢从什么黑暗的地方飞出来。是凡在太阳下的,都是健康的、漂亮的,拍一拍连大树都会发响的,叫一叫就是站在对面的土墙都会回答似的。
花开了,就像花睡醒了似的。鸟飞了,就像鸟上天了似的。虫子叫了,就像虫子在说话似的。一切都活了。都有无限的本领,要做什么,就做什么。要怎么样,就怎么样。都是自由的。矮瓜愿意爬上架就爬上架,愿意爬上房就爬上房。黄瓜愿意开一个黄花就开一个黄花,愿意结一个黄瓜就结一个黄瓜。若都不愿意,就是一个黄瓜也不结,一朵花,也没有人问它似的。玉米愿意长多高就长多高,他若愿意长上天去,也没有人管。蝴蝶随意的飞,一会从墙头上飞来一对黄蝴蝶,一会又从墙头上飞走了一个白蝴蝶。它们是从谁家来的,又飞到谁家去?太阳也不知道这个、
只是天空蓝悠悠的,又高又远。

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