The Blue Kite - CCP style wedding
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Tags: The Blue Kite1
Added: 3 years ago
[scene opens with Chen Shujuan and Lin Shaolong announcing their engagement to their neighbors]
MRS. LAN: Fixed the date yet?
LIN SHAOLONG: March Eight.
MRS. LAN: An even number! That'll bring good fortune.
[the older woman holds up a red paper rose]
CHEN SHUJUAN: What a pretty paper cutting you've made!
MRS. LAN: It's a gift to stick on your window.
[she hands the rose to Chen Shujuan as everyone laughs, when an announcement on the radio can be heard in the background]
ANNOUNCER: The secretary of the Communist Party of the USSR, the Supreme Commander Joseph V. Stalin ...
OLD WOMAN: Who's this Stalin person?
[Misses Lan motion for her to remain silent]
ANNOUNCER: Passed away at nine-fifty PM Moscow time ... March 5, Nineteen Fifty-Three.
[everyone gets a very solemn look on their face]
TIETOU: [in voice over] Mum told me how, because of Stalin's death, she and Dad had to put off their wedding for ten days. And so my birthday came later as well.
["Dad" appears on screen, then cut to the wedding ceremony]
CCP OFFICIAL: Everybody ready? We're about to start!
[he motions towards the bride]
CCP OFFICIAL: You stand here, Shujuan.
[Shujuan and Shaolong stand side-by-side next to the man]
CCP OFFICIAL: Quiet, everyone! The wedding ceremony of Lin Shaolong and Chen Shujuan has begun!
CCP OFFICIAL: First, pay your respects to Chairman Mao!
[the bride and groom turn towards a portrait of Mao and bow ... then they turn back towards the assembled guests, when they notice a man entering with a big smile on his face]
LIN SHAOLONG: Oh, it's Guodong! What kept you?
CCP OFFICIAL: Guodong, quickly! Sign your name here.
[he signs the piece of paper, as Shaolong smiles at him]
CCP OFFICIAL: Next, the bride and groom will perform something for us.
[everyone applauds, as Shujuan (after some hesitation) begins to sing]
CHEN SHUJUAN: On ... On the peaceful soil of the Motherland--
[Shaolong joins her in singing, then everyone assembled starts singing too]
ALL: Life gets better everyday. Lofty ideals for the young, and youthfulness for the old. Our workers love labor, production soars. The peasants work together and harvest ever more. We are peaceloving and never invade others.
[cut to the gift table, as the head on a small horse figurine suddenly falls off (but nobody notices and continues singing)]
ALL: But we don't give peace to invaders or bad people.
[cut to Shaolong having dinner with his family and his new bride]
MOTHER: Shujuan, your wedding today reminds me of the day I was married in Yan'an. The comrades cleared out one of the cave dwellings for us. We each moved our bags inside, and there was a bit of a party. Just a few days later, he was sent to the front lines ... He lost his life in battle.
[she looks down for a moment, then laughs]
MOTHER: You are the Youth of New China. You must carry on the glorious revolutionary tradition, and make a contribution to the motherland.
GRANDMOTHER: Enough already, don't let the food get cold!
MOTHER: All right. Come on, bottoms up!
[everyone lifts their glass]
BROTHER: Shaolong, shouldn't you toast me?
[he pauses, then looks at his mother]
LIN SHAOLONG: To you, Ma!
LIN SHAOLONG: Bottoms up, everyone!
[cut to Shujuan and Shaolong in a room by themselves, as he tries to fix the head on the horse figurine (while she puts on a long red dress)]
CHEN SHUJUAN: Shaolong ... Look, this is the cheungsam Ma made for me.
LIN SHAOLONG: Looks great.
CHEN SHUJUAN: It's a bit much to wear out on the street, don't you think?
LIN SHAOLONG: I like it.
[he puts the horse down, then picks up a red cloth off the table]
LIN SHAOLONG: Shujuan?
CHEN SHUJUAN: Hm?
LIN SHAOLONG: Come here, lower your head.
[she bends down, and he tries to put the cloth over her head]
CHEN SHUJUAN: Hey!
CHEN SHUJUAN: What are you trying to do?
LIN SHAOLONG: In the past, brides always wore a red veil over their face.
CHEN SHUJUAN: Well, I'm not doing it.
LIN SHAOLONG: Come on, look how well this matches your dress.
[he tries again, but she smiles and pushes it away]
LIN SHAOLONG: Please. Do it for me.
CHEN SHUJUAN: [pause] All right.
[he puts it over her head, completely covering her face]
LIN SHAOLONG: Who's there? Come on in!
[he laughs, as Shujuan takes the "veil" off and gives him an annoyed look]
CHEN SHUJUAN: How could you have done that to me?
[she grabs him around the neck in a playful fashion, as he laughs and picks her up piggy-back style]
CHEN SHUJUAN: Put me down! Put me down, now!
[he laughs and walks around the room with her on his back]
CHEN SHUJUAN: What would people think if they saw us? Let me down!
[he just keeps laughing and spins her around the room]
The Blue Kite (Lan fengzheng) is a 1993 drama film directed by Tian Zhuangzhuang. Though banned by the Chinese government upon its completion (along with a ten-year ban on filmmaking imposed on Tian), the film soon found a receptive international audience. Along with Zhang Yimou's To Live and Chen Kaige's Farewell My Concubine, The Blue Kite serves as one of the quintessential examples of China's Fifth Generation filmmaking, and in particular reveals the impact the various political movements, including Anti-Rightist Movement and Cultural Revolution, had upon directors who grew up in the 1950s and 1960s.
The story is told from the perspective of a young boy (Tietou) growing up in the 1950s and 1960s in Beijing. The movie is divided into three "episodes" – representing the Hundred Flowers Campaign, the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution – to show the family members evolving, e.g. from the real father, the "loving patriarch," to the protective but unemotional stepfather.
The first episode, entitled "Father," begins with a wedding between Lin Shaolong and Chen Shujuan in the early 1950s, shortly after the Communist victory. The wedding draws the whole neighborhood, a happy moment that will soon serve as a stark contrast with the years to come. The house and courtyard are shown in a warm bright light as children play happily together.
The couple soon give birth to a son, Tietou, meaning "iron head." In these early years Tietou's father creates for him a blue kite, a symbol that will remain throughout the film as a sign of better days. The father meanwhile, who works in a library, unbeknown to him, submitted "advice" through a well-meaning colleague to the Party as per the Hundred Flowers Campaign. Another colleague, Li, also named in this document, was coerced into giving statements against Lin. Meanwhile, Chen Shujuan's brothers and sister find themselves swept up by the events of the day: Her older brother, an army pilot, begins to lose his eyesight, and loses his girlfriend to powerful party leaders seeking her company; her youngest brother leads a "critique of the party" that he feels is in line with the "Hundred Flowers Campaign"; while their oldest sister, a revolutionary from China's civil war, seeks to keep them in line with party doctrine and party thinking. This soon returns to haunt all of them as the Hundred Flowers movement is followed by the Anti-Rightist Movement. We soon find out that Shujuan's older bother was going blind, and will soon be forced to leave the party. The girl he loved also resigned over her refusal to meet with senior party members in clandestine affairs. Without given cause, simply that she was flaming "counter revolutionary thoughts", she was taken away to prison. Shujuan's youngest brother, an art school student, was called to task for his "critique" of the party and shown standing before his fellow students as they rally against him.
In one of the film's most chilling scenes, Lin Shaolong's workplace has convened a meeting on the issue of who they will have to report to the Communist Party as a "rightist" in order to meet Mao's quota. The father quickly leaves for the bathroom. When he returns, all eyes are on him, it is clear who his colleagues have selected. Realizing his terrible mistake of leaving, the father briefly mistreats his son. Tietou, just a small boy, is still bitter when his father is sent to a work camp. Shujuan's youngest brother was also sent to a reeducation camp. The chapter ends when Tietou's mother receives a letter; his father has been killed by a falling tree.
In 1950s China, just after Chen Shujuan (Lu Liping) and and her librarian husband, Lin Shaolong (Quanxin Pu), have their first child, Shaolong is unjustly forced into a labor camp as a result of Mao's purges. Shaolong dies during his imprisonment, and Shujuan marries Li Guodong (Li Xuejian). But the family faces dire poverty under the Communist regime, and the malnourished Guodong dies. Shujuan and her now adolescent son, Tietou (Chen Xiaoman), must then stick together to survive.
The Blue Kite [Lan feng zheng] (1993, China/Hong Kong). Set in China during the tumultuous 1950s and 1960s, Pu Cunxin as librarian Lin Shaolong is called to a meeting to discuss why no reactionaries have been identified among the staff. He leaves to use the toilet, and upon returning realizes that he has been chosen as the reactionary. He is sent to a collective farm for reeducation and soon dies there.