The good old days
Updated: 2012-02-03 07:42
By Zhu Beijing (朱蓓静) (China Daily)
You Are the Apple of My Eye, which tells a story about puppy love, became a surprise box-office hit last month. Provided to China Daily
Popular Chinese movie recalls beautiful memories of youth
In a January bombed by action-packed blockbusters like director Zhang Yimou's The Flowers of War (《金陵十三钗》) or The Flying Swords of Dragon Gate (《龙门飞甲》) with Jet Li, it was something of a surprise when a movie about teenage puppy love soared to the top of the box office days after its premiere last month.
Entitled You Are the Apple of My Eye (《那些年，我们一起追的女孩》, literally, "The Girl We Wooed in Those Years"), the movie is adapted from a semi-autobiographical novel of the same name by Taiwan's author Giddens Ko aka "Nine Knives" (九把刀 jiǔbǎdāo).
Ko wrote the heart-wrenching book shortly after attending the wedding of a girl he had loved throughout his teenage years. In 2010, he went on to adapt the novel into a screenplay.
The story begins in 1994, Taiwan. Shen Jiayi (the name of the female lead and also the real name of the author's lost love) is a top student at her high school and popular among the boys - except for the mischievous Ke Jingteng (the author's real name), who is annoyed by Shen's goody-two-shoes primness. His irritation grows exponentially when the class teacher punishes his misbehavior by placing him under Shen's monitoring.
But their rocky relationship is transformed one day, when Ke "saves" Shen during English class. That day, anyone who had forgotten their textbook would be forced to stand outside the classroom, holding their desk chair above their head and jumping up and down. Shen's face tightens with panic, as she realizes she's forgotten her textbook - and then opens with surprise as Ke tosses his textbook to her and steps outside the classroom to begin his hopping.
After this, the two become intimate friends and Ke gradually begins to develop an affection for Shen.
In an attempt to prove himself to her, Ke throws himself into his studies and is rewarded by admittance to one of the top universities.
Shen, ironically, does less well on her college entrance exam and ends up at a second-tier university.
During the Christmas of their first year in college, the two finally have their first date, launching their long-awaited romance. But their bliss is short-lived.
Hoping to prove his masculinity to Shen, Ke enters himself in a boxing contest, where he gets beaten to a pulp.
Rather than impressed, Shen is just disgusted: "You are so childish!" She admonishes him.
"It's because I'm so childish that I have loved you for so long," Ke shoots back.
In a somewhat unbelievable development, the two break up and don't meet again until years later, when Ke receives a wedding invitation from Shen.
At the wedding party the male classmates of the bride jokingly propose that they be allowed to kiss the bride. To their surprise, the groom agrees, but adds one caveat: "Whoever wants to kiss the bride has to kiss me first."
As the others start grumbling about how xiaoqi (小气, xiǎoqì, petty or stingy) this request is, Ke suddenly tackles the groom with a long, iron-fisted kiss. As the groom flails helplessly, the crowd looks on in shock, and then the bride suddenly bursts into laughter.
Yet the hilarious scene has a more regrettable version in reality. In a recent interview with Sina, the director confessed that he did indeed propose to kiss the bride at her wedding, but was shut down with the same answer. Frustrated, he promised that he would one day make a movie out of the story, and in this way enact the scene that he wished had taken place.
Though several of the film's more sensitive and sensational scenes were cut for its release on the mainland, You Are the Apple of My Eye has nevertheless received a passionate response from audiences.
"Those who are moved by this movie must have met his or her own Shen Jiayi or Ke Jingteng before," a netizen writes. "It recalls the most beautiful memories of your youth and touches the softest part of your heart."
"Loving the right person will make you shine," another netizen commented.
Thank you for loving me.
Xièxie nǐ xǐhuan wǒ.
I love the "I" who loved you back then, too.
Wǒ yě xǐhuan nàshíhòu xǐhuan nǐ de wǒ.
Courtesy of The World of Chinese, www.theworldofchinese.com