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Wednesday, July 15, 2009
Five Golden Flowers -vvz

I recently dug up and watched an old movie I last saw when I was a toddler. The film is called Five Golden Flowers (五朵金花). Filmed in 1959, it won some awards and was screened in more than 30 countries. The film can be loosely classified as a musical romantic comedy. Even though it was made half a century ago, I think it's better than many movies produced these days.

The plot is simple. The protagonist (Ah Peng, which is the generic name for males of the Bai minorities) meets a girl (called Jinhua, literally golden flower, the generic name for females of the Bai tribe) at a festival. They agree to meet a year later but Jinhua gave only vague directions to where she lives (supposedly to test his resolve in finding her). Ah Peng proceeded to travel the region to look for Jinhua, only to come across many false alarms as there are hundreds of girls with that name. Since it's a happy feel-good movie, the lovers were, of course, reunited at the end.

Set in the period of China's failed Great Leap Forward (1958-1961) movement, the film contains not too subtle displays of optimism with industrialization, communism and all that stuff. People still call each other comrades in those days. As such, this film also provides an interesting glimpse into the political climate of those days, especially with respect to the minority ethnic groups in Yunnan.

Sadly, the lead actress Yang Likun (杨丽坤) led a tragic life, quite unlike that of the character she portrayed. Her other famous movie Ashima was blacklisted during the Cultural Revolution (1966-1976) and the actress was condemned with the film. Only in her twenties then, She was tortured and subsequently became schizophrenic. Her condition improved slightly after the Cultural Revolution. She eventually moved to Shanghai and died in 2000.

Here's the famous duet scene at Butterfly Spring in Dali (lyrics on the YouTube page). The place is now a tourist attraction.

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Yiheng made
12:53 AM


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