Monday, January 21, 2013

Case Study No. 0736: Unnamed Female Librarian (I Love Beijing)

Excerpt from the film I LOVE BEIJING, a Facets Video release. Directed by Ning Ying For more info or to order this film, visit ProductDetails.asp? ProductCode=DV97093 or contact sales [at]

Facets Multi-Media is a non-profit media arts organization founded in Chicago in 1975, and dedicated to making cinema accessible to all through film preservation, distribution, presentation, and education. For more information, visit

The third film in director Ning Ying's "Beijing Trilogy," this romantic drama follows the fortunes of a young cab driver who is depressed because of a recent divorce. He turns his personality around to become a ladies man, wooing a waitress, a librarian, and then a talk-show host. Lost in the dating wars, he longs to find the love of his life in the rapidly changing city of Beijing. The trilogy is structured around different generations and their responses to the fast-paced lifestyle and rapid changes of China's capital city. While I Love Beijing focuses on the heartbreak of young love, For Fun concerns the elderly and China's disappearing traditions and cultural values, and On the Beat features middle-aged characters who can't cope with the "new China." Winner of the Don Quixote Award at the Berlin Film Festival.
Tags: Asian Cinema Chinese Cinema
Added: 2 years ago
From: facetsmultimedia
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[scene opens with Desi driving his cab down the street, when he notices a young female librarian walking and carrying a vacuum cleaner, so he slows down next to her]
DESI: [translated] Hey, do you need a ride?
[she waves him off and keeps walking, but Desi persists]
DESI: [translated] I'll give you a discount rate ... No meter!
[she holds up the vacuum]
LIBRARIAN: [translated] Where can I get this repaired?
DESI: [translated] There's a place just ahead.
LIBRARIAN: [translated] I can't afford your cab.
DESI: [translated] No meter, just ten yuan.
[she gets into the backseat of the cab]
LIBRARIAN: [translated] Okay, ten yuan.
[he looks down his sunglasses at her, then casually flicks down the meter on his dashboard]
LIBRARIAN: [translated] Hey! You said no meter!
[he laughs and flips it back up]
DESI: [translated] Sorry, it's just habit.
LIBRARIAN: [translated] I can't afford the meter ... I work at a library.
DESI: [translated] An intellectual? You don't look like one.
LIBRARIAN: [translated] So what do intellectuals look like?
DESI: [translated] Don't intellectuals have any money?
LIBRARIAN: [translated] No! Cabbies earn more than me.
DESI: [translated] Isn't it boring to spend all day with books? I couldn't take it.
LIBRARIAN: [translated] That's why you drive a taxi ...
DESI: [translated] But at least we make money. I don't read books, but I make a good living. If my vacuum cleaner breaks, I just buy a new one.
LIBRARIAN: [translated] Money doesn't give you the right to talk like a thug.
DESI: [translated] How shameful! An intellectual hurling insults ...
[annoyed, she looks out the window]
LIBRARIAN: [translated] I don't like your attitude.
DESI: [translated] So why let a thug take you to the repair shop?
[she leans over and gets right up next to his ear]
LIBRARIAN: [translated] You begged me to get in!
DESI: [translated] But you jumped in on your own ...
LIBRARIAN: [translated] Stop the car. I want out.
DESI: [translated] I'll get a ticket if I stop here.
[she frantically begins looking around]
DESI: [translated] Don't get so upset. I was just making conversation.



"I Love Beijing" (pinyin: "Xiari nuanyangyang", literally "The Warmth of Summer") is a 2000 Chinese film directed by Ning Ying. It constitutes the third film in Ning's "Beijing Trilogy," a loose coterie of films detailing the rapid changes that have befallen Beijing in recent decades. In this final installment, a recently divorced cabdriver, Desi (Yu Lei) feels disconnected from the modern city of Beijing as he picks up fares around the city, all while engaging in a series of short-term relationships with the various women he meets.

The film's title in Chinese was originally meant to mirror the English title "I Love Beijing." Ning Ying's ambivalence towards the city's modernization, however, made censors concerned that people would interpret the title as sarcastic, leading to the altered title which translates as the "Warmth of Summer."

With each entry into Ning Ying's Beijing Trilogy, the focus has been on a different generation: the elderly in For Fun, the middle-aged in On the Beat and now the youth in I Love Beijing. The film follows the twenty-something taxi driver Desi (Yu Lei) and opens on his divorce proceedings. Finding himself alone, Desi becomes something of a Casanova, and is soon dating a waitress, then a librarian, then a radio talk show host. Each woman, however, lacks something he desires. It becomes clear that despite his serial monogamy, Desi is really a romantic, and wonders when he will find the love of his life in the rapidly changing city he lives in.



This is a remarkable look at Beijing in the years leading to the giant party that was the 2008 Beijing Olympics. In this 2000 film, the entire city seems to be a construction site. Changing attitudes toward marriage and sex are very much on display here. I happened to watch this film (thank you Netflix) in close proximity to Zhang Yimou's latest film, Under the Hawthorn Tree. That film is set in the Cultural Revolution and the contrast in dress, speech, and behavior in the two films is stunning.

I Love Beijing opens in a government marriage/divorce registration office. Dezi, a cab driver, seems to have cheated on his wife, who is anxious to end their marriage. The "amicable" divorce is anything but, with Dezi's mother criticizing Dezi for staying away from home, but blaming and beating his wife -- assuming that she'd been stepping out on her son. Dezi rebounds quickly - his cab makes him a relatively good catch -- and provides his waitress girlfriend Xiaoxue with an apartment. Her relatives soon crowd Dezi out of the place and he drops her. He picks up a librarian, who winds up setting him up with a country wife. Along the way, we see Dezi putting in impossibly long hours, getting cheated and worse by thugs. We see rich young people spending lavishly and other folks scrapping by.

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