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This is, by all means, one of the most beautiful films I've ever seen.
In spite of the generational gap between us who were born in the 80s and the director who went through their puberty in the 60s, it's a portrait and poem of memory and childhood, regardless of age matters. It is physically impossible to be absolutely honest and draw back memories in the exact realistic way. So we all start telling our own stories mixed with both facts and imaginations.
This film actually reminds me of Giuseppe Tornatore's masterpiece Malèna. The beginning of puberty desire for females, become the fundamental essence of both movies. Both boys had their final releases, with endings filled with both bitterness and sweetness. I believe that every single male audience who watched these two films can recall their dim but lively memory of the curiosity for girls at that age. Amazing...as a Chinese myself, I did find myself more involved with Jiang Wen's piece though.
The cinematography, from Gu Changwei, who's also known for his Berlin Silver Bear winning direction of Peacock, simply stands in the realm of perfection. The yellowish and blurring photographic construction of scenarios generates the nostalgic theme of the movie, and helps the story become more beautiful as it has already been.
The black&white ending, FANTASTIC. A truly imaginative and creative conclusion. Apart from the ironic contrast of the hierarchical statuses among the 'gang' members comparing to their old days, the final line shot by the retarded guy actually made me think. We are becoming materially and intellectually richer and cleverer as we grows, but should those childishness and innocently pure emotions from our childhood be cherished? Days 'in the heat of the sun' has not only symbolize memory, but also speak for the pureness and simple innocence. We are all 'fools', as we enter the kingdom of adulthood, we will inevitably lose our naive characteristics.
Life is always about gaining and losing at the same time, isn't it?
Politically and culturally speaking, Jian Wen did not focus much of his storytelling on the miseries and depressions resulted from Mao's Cultural Revolution. Again, this is not a realistic representation of the concrete historical notion, it's a artistic craft tributing to memories. My parents, who shared the similar historical experience with Jiang Wen, did not acknowledge this film as a proper description of their childhood when they saw it. "It's too romantic to be true." as they said to me. However, they both admitted that the film did reflect their own fantasies of an ideal past. Every time I ask them about what happened with their childhood, they can only give me a vague framework. A lot of the times, the recalling always come with a particular item, like shoes, football, soy sauce, Mao's red book...
"Sometimes, maybe a kind of sound and a stream of smell, can bring you back to the truth." as Jiang Wen said in the voice-over in the film. It's not only for people grew up in the 60s, but also for everybody. Funny as it is, memories can cheat on you and rationalize you in the same filed.
A Time to Live in Dream, this Beach Boy classic accidentally pops into my head. "The child's joyous tear, with innocence he has no fear, now I know what love really is..." Days with brightly shining and heating sun conspire to create a time to live in dream, what a marvel!
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