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Our Shining Days(闪光少女)

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Xiaowei Hunt
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Our Shining Days(闪光少女)

Movie Review

Last school year for my AP Chinese and Language & Cultural class, I played " Our Shining Days", a Chinese movie with bilingual subtitle in Chinese and English. The movie aroused my students' interest in learning more Chinese language and the culture instilled in it. They asked me to show it again and again. Other levels of my Chinese classes also wanted to watch it. I am here highly recommending it to any K-12 educators.

"Our Shining Days" (闪光少女) is set in a school of music in China with about half of its students learning playing western musical instruments (the piano, the violin, the cello...) while another half learning playing traditional Chinese musical instruments such as Guzheng, Pipai, Erhu or Suona. The main characters Chen Jing and li You are in the AnchorAnchorAnchortraditional Chinese musical instrument group while Wang Wen, Xiaomai and Beibei are in the western musical instrument group. In this school, playing western musical instruments was deemed more promising, hopeful and prominent than playing Anchortraditional Chinese musical instruments from top down---from the administrators to students. Chen Jing happens to fall in love with Wang Wen(the handsome pianist), but Wang Wen despises Chen Jing because in his mind the western musical instruments (piano in his case) are obviously more superior than traditional Chinese musical instruments (Yang Qin, in Chen Jing’s case), and he looks down on Chen Jing, a Yang Qin player. Challenged by Wang Wen, Chen Jing and Li You form a band by earning the support of members of dorm 52, headed by Xiao Mai (nicknamed Qian Zhi Daren). The traditional Chinese musical instrument group won in a musical instrument playing battle between traditional Chinese musical instruments and western musical instruments. This is youth inspirational film, about how a group of high school students tries to revive Chinese orchestra ensemble. They face many challenges along the way to compete nationally, including a rivalry with the more popular Western orchestra club.

I highly recommend this movie as it is school age-appropriate with no need to cut any scenes, and the use of language in the movie is also appropriate for school-age kids, especially for secondary students. Its significance is easily felt and made clear: Beautiful music has no boundaries. Musical instruments from any country are equally good and should be highly valued. You may even ask your students to conduct a Q&AS either orally or in writing  about the movie to ensure total participation.