Summer Palace by Lou Ye
A different version of this note and thoughts on other books are available at:
- https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLEVa4_CsRStSBBDo4uJWT8BSWtTTn0N1E and http://realini.blogspot.ro/
- “There is something that comes suddenly like a wind on a warm summer’s evening. It takes you off guard and leaves you without peace.
- It follows you like a shadow and it’s impossible to shake.
- I don’t know what it is, so I can only call it love
o From the diary of Yu Hong”
This is the quote at the start of the film.
Yu Hong is the heroine.
The film is a love story…
Yu Hong’s love story
To quote the protagonist again:
- “I don’t know what it is”, but it is an intriguing, at times captivating narrative
Yu Hong is an unusual woman.
I thought she behaves rather strange, but then, to quote Shakespeare:
“My love is as a fever, longing still
For that which longer nurseth the disease,
Feeding on that which doth preserve the ill,
Th’ uncertain sickly appetite to please.
My reason, the physician to my love,
Angry that his prescriptions are not kept,
Hath left me, and I desperate now approve
Desire is death, which physic did except.
Past cure I am, now reason is past care,
And frantic-mad with evermore unrest;
My thoughts and my discourse as madmen’s are,
At random from the truth vainly expressed:
For I have sworn thee fair, and thought thee bright,
Who art as black as hell, as dark as night.”
Indeed, being in love, Yu Hong acts as if “Past cure I am, now reason is past care”
Nevertheless, she is involved with a few men.
That is because she tries to find solace and comfort, to forget her obsessive compulsive desire for one man.
Maybe this is so.
I could not figure out a woman whose “reason, the physician to her love has left her”.
There are other interesting characters in the film, who have seemed rather Western to me, having expected them to be outré, exotique more or less.
My experience with people from china has been a very negative one, seeing as I was assigned to escort a group of high dignitaries from the Shenzhen province and I have hated their pompous, pretentious and commie attitude.
In his classic, Influence, Robert Cialdini explains that we have a preference, a “liking” for those who are “more like us”.
In the East, the emphasis is more on the collective and much less on the individual, on hard work and less on leisure.
Malcolm Gladwell, another titan of psychology, explains in another masterpiece, Outliers, the paramount importance of the rice crop for the Asian culture and the fact that rice requires a continuous, year round care, as opposed to corn and other crops cultivated in the West and the effect was that Asians work much harder than we do in the West.
It was interesting to watch the protests of Tianmen Square taking place in 1989 and presented in the film.
They are set against the Fall of the Berlin Wall, the collapse of the Soviet Union, Yeltsin and his stand against the KGB coup, the departure of Chris Patten, the last British governor of Hong Kong and other events.
The very presence of the demonstrations made the film anathema for the Chinese censors- at least this is what I think.
Even if there is no intention from the film maker to try and influence the viewer and the protests are a background.
This is a worthwhile, interesting film, notwithstanding its apparent neglect by critics and I guess distributors.