"Let my music become battle cries." -Chopin
The above quote is an accurate thematic analysis of the 2017 award-winning film, "Our Shining Days." Written by Bao Jingjing and directed by Wang Ran, this film is an ironic tale of keeping Chinese tradition alive versus the assimilation of Western culture through the medium of music. Along with the great script and wonderful acting, the fabulous cinematography and meticulous directing fully brought the film and its message to life.
As a classically-trained clarinetist, I was fully engaged with the film's story. Centered around the life and ambition of high school student Chen Jing, the story was about her wanting to have her voice heard through the element of music. Although she wanted to keep Chinese (Traditional) Music alive at her school and through its program, there were numerous challenges. One challenge was the school's lack of acknowledgement of the traditional music and its focus on Classical Music. Another challenge was the school's intentional separation of both programs, which caused artistic, social, and aestethic segregration. The last challenge was the lead character not, at first, fully connecting to the tradition that she wanted to preserve. Once she and her good musician friend, Liu You, met other students who were historically knowledgeable and on the same page, they formed their ensemble (which broke up at one point but came back together) and achieved their collective goal.
"Our Shining Days" is such a beautiful film. The irony of keeping Chinese tradition(s) alive through the elements of the high school students and their modern-day modes of operation (social apps; animation; technology) was creatively incorporated into the film. The film also exemplified the thought processes of cultural tradition and assimilation. Through the lives of the students, the screenwriter was able to enlighten the audience through the authenticity of how the young and old adopt both worlds. "Our Shining Days" is such a refreshing piece of art - a cultural treasure that resonates with many cultures. Beautiful!