Tuesday, 19 November 2013

37 - A Beautiful Movie

Movie “37” is a Mainland and HK joint production, supported by the Hong Kong Film Development Council, directed by Chen Guo Xin. Main actresses include Liu Xiao Qing, Charlie Yeung, and Lin Miao Ke. 

When a friend invited me to view the movie, promising breathtaking scenery and delightful songs by cute and organic Mongolian children, I was skeptical. I love good movies but don’t have the stamina to sit through bad ones. That’s why going to the cinema has become an annual event. The occasional experimental artsy creation could be a pleasant surprise; unfortunately, most are impenetrable. Straightforward coherence, though extremely rare in everyday life, is paradoxically regarded ordinary and unoriginal by many artists. 

The name “37” turned out to be the worst thing about the movie. It was beautiful, moving and charming, not hokey as I cynically suspected.
A good drama does not necessarily need a convoluted plot. “37” is nearly too simple for words. A single Hong Kong career mum (Charlie Yeung) and her little girl (Lin Miao Ke) travel to Mongolia — half business, half vacation. In the beginning, they cringe at everything, suspecting everyone, would not even touch the armrest in the beat-up vehicle before covering it with tissue paper. Then the little girl starts playing with the Mongolian kids. Through the children’s friendship, their outlook changed. End of story. 

The moral of the story is obvious, something that the director has wisely avoided labouring. The materialistic and untrusting angst which plagues urbanites is contrasted against the generous spirit of people nurtured by the expansive steppes. We are shaped by the environment we live in. By ruthlessly altering the environment, we have unwittingly changed our body and psyche. 

I “interviewed” the voluble Hong Kong producer Frank Lee afterwards.

The idea first struck Frank when he visited Inner Mongolia in 2006 on invitation by Wang Ji Yuan of Phoenix TV who, ironically, regarded television a threat to folklore culture. Wang spent part of his childhood in Mongolia, and wanted to do a documentary on sub-tribal songs facing imminent danger of being forgotten and lost. 

Being a venture capitalist, amateur screenplay writer, and a jazz band manager (among other creative ventures), Frank was immediately impressed by the Quintessenso Children’s Choir of Hulunbeier comprising 37 melodious kids (hence the esoteric name of the eventual movie). One thing led to another, with seeding support from the Hong Kong Film Development Council, the movie was born. Frank likened “37” to The Sound of Music. In many ways, it’s more. It’s more relevant to our times, inviting us to pause and reflect the gains and losses of human progress.

The movie is now freely available on Letv. Here’s the link: http://www.letv.com/ptv/vplay/1645651.html  The only price to pay is a one-minute endurance of some dumb on-line game commercial. It’s in Putonghua with Chinese subtitles. A NOW-TV version has English subtitles but I don’t have the direct link to it.

中文:一套感人的电影 “37” :http://guo-du.blogspot.hk/2013/11/37.html


Dennis Chan said...

Thank you. Dennis Kwoksun Chan

Henry said...

Hi James,
This movie sounds really good, but I can't seem to find the english version, would you happen to have the link to it?

James Tam 谭炳昌 (过渡) said...

Hi Henry,

I think there's a link with English sub-title but not sure if there's an English version. Let me know if you can't find the version with sub-title and I'll see if I can find it for you.