Tuesday, May 20, 2008
And the Spring Comes (立春)
After built an impressive resume as a cinematographer for top directors such as Zhang Yimou (张艺谋), Chen Kaige (陈凯歌), and Robert Altman, in 2005 Gu Changwei (顾长卫) delivered his stunning directorial debut "Peacock (孔雀)." The film took the Silver Bear award at the Berlin International Film Festival.
At the end of "Peacock," the voiceover from the younger brother says:
It has been regarded as a cue for Gu Changwei's second film "And the Spring Comes (立春)" (China 2007, 105 min.), the second installment of Gu's trilogy about ordinary people. Poetic and profoundly touching, like Gu's first film, this beautiful film tells a compelling story about a teacher's pursuit of her dreams and love, although it is not a sequel of "Peacock."
Set in a small town near Baotou, Wang Cailing is a vocal teacher who has an magnificent voice and a big dream—to be an opera (Italian Opera, not Beijing Opera) singer at the National Opera House. She is not dreaming alone: she meets a young man who wants to be a China's Vincent van Gogh, a gay ballet dancer who pasts his prime, and many other artist misfits. All of them struggle not only to realize their dreams, but more pressingly, to get accepted and understood by the society, which means to survive.
The film is a tribute to those artists who are trapped in the hush reality but keep their hopes alive. Despite the repeated setbacks, they continue to long for a new life, a new love, and a new world, no matter what it takes. Their experiences are often heartbroken, but never fail to inspire.
Jiang Wenli (蒋雯丽), director Gu's wife in real life, strikingly played the misfortunate, unattractive, and trying protagonist Wang Cailing. Jiang put on 15 lbs and disappeared completely in her character both emotionally and physically. Her outstanding performance earned her the Best Actress award at the Rome Film Festival in 2007, when the film was premiered.
In the film, Jiang's character Wang Chailing wonders philosophically:
The audiences must be wondering as well: Will love and hope that millions of Wang Chailing have been dreaming about come true next spring? Is something going to happen to them or are they going to miss out again?
However, one thing will be certain: they will not stop dreaming.