Busi­ness lead­ers sa­vor film set in ro­man­tic era

China Daily (Canada) - - TORONTO - By XU­FAN

To many Chi­nese, the early 1980s were part of a “golden era” for ide­al­ists.

A ro­mance film named af­ter the decade has re­cently made a nos­tal­gic splash among those miss­ing their lost youth and dreams.

Love in the 1980s, adapted from a best-selling novel of the same name, opened in main­land the­aters on Sept 11, which seems an awk­ward tim­ing wedged be­tween Hol­ly­wood block­busters Mis­sion Im­pos­si­ble 5 (Sept 8) and Minions (Sept 13).

But the art-house ro­mance drama sur­prised most in­sid­ers, with more than 100 big names from busi­ness ty­coons to art moguls, turn­ing up at last Thurs­day’s sneak preview.

The guest list in­cluded Len­ovo founder Liu Chuanzhi, New Ori­en­tal chair­man Yu Min­hong, for­mer Huayuan CEO Ren Zhiqiang, and HKS for­mer ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor Yang Jin­lin.

Most of the busi­ness lead­ers had strived and strug­gled in the ’80s to achieve their present-day suc­cess, which makes the decade res­onate with sig­nif­i­cance for them.

“The early years in that decade wit­nessed the turn­ing point, when literature and cul­ture emerged from de­pres­sion to boom,” says Yang.

Ro­man­tic re­la­tion­ships in that decade meant more self-re­straint and tol­er­ance for the part­ner. That’s hard for Chi­nese in their 20s or 30s to un­der­stand, Yang adds.

Di­rected by Huo Jianqi, an art­house Chi­nese film­maker who is also pop­u­lar in Ja­pan, the sto­ry­line flows in a pac­ing sim­i­lar to that of “an es­say poem”, says Liu.

Set in a pic­turesque town in Cen­tral China’s Hubei province, the movie re­volves around a bit­ter­sweet love be­tween the sales­woman of a co­op­er­a­tive store and a col­lege grad­u­ate, who is as­signed to work in the lo­cal gov­ern­ment. Hin­dered by the iden­tity gap — col­lege grad­u­ates were rare and thus had great prom­ise at the time — the hero­ine holds back her love un­til the end of her life.

Chi­na­had­seen a se­ries of changes thanks to the re­form and openingup pol­icy, but love re­mained a for­bid­den zone in public dis­course in the early part of that decade.

“Hug­ging and kiss­ing

were re­garded as dare­devil acts,” re­calls Yi Zhong­tian, a famed his­to­rian. “In love letters, peo­ple still quoted Chair­man Mao’s words and ad­dressed (their beloved) as ‘com­rade’.”

Usu­ally a movie high­lights showbiz stars, but Love owes its rep­u­ta­tion to its writer, Zheng Ship­ing, fa­mil­iar by his pen name Yefu. To com­mem­o­rate his first lover, Zheng wrote the semi-bi­o­graph­i­cal novel dur­ing a stay in Ger­many.

“The ro­mances in the 1980s were purer, more sim­ple and re­strained,” Zheng says, ex­plain­ing that the na­tion’s strug­gling econ­omy back then made mil­lions of peo­ple live in poverty, and daily sur­vival was the pri­or­ity.

“But it made us not so ma­te­ri­alo­ri­ented like some in to­day’s so­ci­ety. Girls pre­ferred to give their hearts to the men who could write po­ems,” he says.

“That may ex­plain the num­ber of mod­ern po­ets peak­ing in that era. Writ­ing po­ems was fash­ion­able, just like to­day’s pur­suit of big brands.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from China

© PressReader. All rights reserved.