|Ann Hui and Tang Wei have fun working together|
courtesy of mingpao.com
|courtesy of singtao.com|
The Ann Hui On Wa directed, Tang Wei starred new film THE GOLDEN ERA has not been released yet but already has been invited to be this year's Venice Film Festival closing film and selected for the Toronto Film Festival "Master Class" segment. To coordinate with the film's October 1 simultaneous global release, they earlier met with the media in Hong Kong and shared their production experience.
The film was about the short life of one of the four great female writers of the Republic era, Xiao Hong. Tang Wei admitted that playing a real legendary figure was difficult. "Because Xiao Hong was a real personality, she experienced everything that a woman would experience. With that era's backdrop, the performance was somewhat difficult." Ann added that the so-called real referred to no gimmick and no exaggeration, thus the role was hard to play. Tang Wei of course was able to meet her demands. Tang Wei mischievously said, "Thank you!" Speaking of Tang Wei, Ann said, "Tang Wei's appearance is very gentle and graceful, she also has quite a character and a very unique aura. Her acting has always been publicly recognized as good. Thus the writers, the producers and I already have her in mind long ago. (You once said that Tang Wei's personality and aura resembled Ruan Lingyu?) My meaning is not referring to any resemblance in appearance. Her fate also absolutely has no connection to Ruan. I only suddenly thought of Ruan in sorrowful films like THE GODDESS with a rhythm that was a little like Tang Wei's; she would not have any expression for a very, very long time, suddenly she would be able to perform it. Thus her (acting) rhythm was very unique."
For this film, Ann and Tang Wei had to make a lot of preparations before hand like reading Xiao Hong, Xiao Jun and Lu Xun's key work, basic knowledge of the historical background. They even had to start watching some video information a year before the production start to understand the life condition in each place back then. Ann admitted, "I truly became afraid of reading so much information because when I got to the end I would forget the beginning. So I kept making notes. However solid work like this had a great sense of satisfaction, We were already very happy about having the time for us to do it." Tang Wei also believed that the director enjoyed the preparation process very much because she was like that too. She said, "One part that I enjoy the most as an actor is the process of preparing for the character. From reading Xiao Hong's book, making contact with her life, her everything to something as detailed as what kind of pen she used to write with. I slowly felt the role, including learning how to make dumpling, from the flour to making the skin, it was all the authentic way of making Harbin dumpling. The entire process was a lot of fun. Later everyone ate them together." Ann even revealed that Tang Wei spent an afternoon making dumplings. At dinner, the tech team originally did not want to get up for dinner. Yet when they heard dinner was Tang Wei's dumplings, they all got up to eat. At the time the directing team just went to scout location, thus Ann was not able to taste them until the next day. She said, "The taste was OK, I had them for two days."
Renowned in the literary world, Xiao Hong struggled in love and life. Some felt that her life was painful but Tang Wei disagreed. She said, "Actually when you experienced it you wouldn't feel pity for yourself. In her books you wouldn't feel her cries of anguish and grievance. She experienced life then fought back, she wanted to survive. Thus whether in her life or love, she did it out of instinct. (Her survival instinct may resemble yours?) Everyone want to be fed and clothed, have a happy life, she also was a very naive person. Everything she depicted was simple yet extremely romantic. (Are you as romantic as she was?) I never thought about that, when I performed I only thought about the character. If I thought about myself I wouldn't be able to play the character. (What kind of happy life are you after? Is it to have your own family?) I believe everyone woman would be like Xiao Hong and long for a stable life, but she lived in an age of war, experienced life in its worse. Although since she was little she learned from her grandpa a lot of history and literature, she still was unable to escape her destiny. (What did you learn from the character?) Every character is a great teacher. During art format like music, film and even a comment from someone wise could teach me a lot." As for Xiao Hong leaving home, Tang Wei felt that she did not do so to avoid marriage but for education because of the knowledge that she gained from her grandpa. Everyone wanted to learn, she did not want to lose the chance at school due to marriage. Thus now everyone should cherish the right to decide on marriage and education as well as life. She said, "This is my view after finish playing every character, especially lately with so much that has happened, everyone should cherish life even more and stop wasting time."
As for working with Ann, Tang Wei pointed out that this film had too many difficulties that required everyone to face and resolve together. Instead she did not chat much with the director. She could only slowly comprehend what the director wanted through the collaboration, and she felt that the director was intelligent. Ann laughed. "Of course not!" Ann also said that after finishing this film she felt that no one should pessimistically submit to life. "Many feel that Xiao Hong's life was painful and tragic, but after shooting her entire life, I saw that every life has a destiny. Xiao Hong finished what she should do in a lifetime and contributed more than others, which could be said as fortunate. On the other hand for Xiao Jun whose life was three times longer than hers it was the beginning of tragedy. Thus rushing to judge a person with longevity and wealth may be a mistake." Ann also cited King Hu (Wu Kam Chuen) as an example. Many said that he was very tragic because he died young. When he died he was unable to finish the film that he wanted to make, but actually his achievement was enormous. He brought Hong Kong wuxia film to a new level. Who could rival his achievement? Thus he could not be described as someone who did not get his way. Ann said, "I hope viewers after watching this story of Xiao Hong would feel that it is positive, recognize life as long as you work hard (on living)."