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叶星优酸乳

叶星优酸乳

从阅读中汲取勇气和力量
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You want a wife, but not me.

During a casual chat with a friend, I was introduced to an old meme from 2019 - "Old Xu, do you want a wife or not?"

Upon researching, I found that this meme originated from a 1982 film called "Herdsman," directed by Xie Jin.

The film is set in post-Cultural Revolution China, during a time of rectification and reform, where people were filled with hope for the future of the country.

The story begins with the protagonist, Xu Lingjun, going to Beijing to meet his father. His father has come from the United States with the intention of bringing Xu Lingjun back to inherit the family business. Xu Lingjun was abandoned as a child when his father went to the United States in pursuit of personal freedom. In his youth, he was labeled as a rightist. For decades, he worked as a herdsman on a ranch in the northwest. During a week spent with his father, Xu Lingjun reflects on his past experiences, which include both pain and joy.

The main conflict of the film revolves around whether Xu Lingjun should agree to go to the United States with his father. The different environments they grew up in shaped their contrasting perspectives. His father longs for freedom and despises feudalistic thinking, possessing a strong individual will. Xu Lingjun, on the other hand, grew up in a collective and loves the collective, believing in the future of the country and hoping to contribute to its development. Their opposing viewpoints represent the cultural clash depicted in the film.

Although the film is set in the later stages of the Cultural Revolution, it does not deliberately criticize the revolution nor does it overly romanticize it. Instead, it calmly portrays Xu Lingjun's life, flowing like a stream on the grassland. This is a remarkable aspect of the film and the expression style that I appreciate the most.

There are several memorable scenes in the film.

Since he had his wife, Li Xiuzhi, Xu Lingjun's life completely changed.

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At first, Xu Lingjun's home had only one bowl and a pair of chopsticks, and the walls were bare. After Li Xiuzhi came, they built a house, built a courtyard wall, and even planted trees. The yard was filled with chickens and ducks, and they lived off whatever they raised.

Li Xiuzhi can be described as a typical Chinese woman, but she also possesses many rare qualities of that era.

For example, when she met Xu Lingjun, she saw how considerate he was, giving her the porridge and the bed, and even offering to use the money he had saved to send her back to her hometown. Despite Xu Lingjun being labeled as a rightist at the time, she was able to break through the rigid political thinking and see his qualities, which was not easy during that era.

Furthermore, she was self-reliant, had clear goals, and pursued her own dreams. As a woman, she did not confine herself to ordinary women's work. She built earthen walls, pursued education, and even thought about herding horses. Even with only a fourth-grade education, she constantly learned to read from Xu Lingjun, never lowering her own standards. She often said, "There will be bread, and everything will be fine," as a reminder.

In terms of educating their children, she taught her son the correct view of money, emphasizing that even if his grandfather was a billionaire, it was not his own money. If he wanted something, he had to work hard and spend his own money to feel at ease.

Li Xiuzhi reminds me of Chen Yun, the wife of Shen Fu, as recorded in "Six Records of a Floating Life." They share the commonality of a fulfilling and happy married life, not becoming a "grave" for love. Xu Lingjun and Li Xiuzhi didn't even have a process of falling in love. They got married first and then met, eventually getting to know each other.

Lin Yutang once commented that Chen Yun was the "most lovely woman in Chinese literature." I believe that Li Xiuzhi in the film possesses the same qualities and is a beautiful presence. Xu Lingjun is fortunate to have such a wife, and Li Xiuzhi is equally fortunate to have such a husband.


The simplicity of rural affection.

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When Xu Lingjun first arrived, the enthusiastic Mr. Dong helped him nail the door curtain, and Mrs. Dong brought hot food. Even Guo Piezi sent his wife in a confused manner.

The neighbors protected him from being criticized and made a lively scene during their wedding, providing them with food coupons, money, and a pot for cooking. They even drove him to the county in a horse carriage. After being rehabilitated, he became a primary school teacher. The responsibility of educating the children of his former neighbors fell on his shoulders, a reciprocal act of kindness. This deep rural affection was an important part of his decision to stay.


Money or emotions?

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The father is a victim of arranged marriage, which is why he hates this backward system and culture, leading him to leave for the United States in pursuit of freedom. As a son, Xu Lingjun also followed the same path in terms of marriage, but fortunately, they both met the right person.

The father's attitude undergoes subtle changes. When he hears about Xu Lingjun's marriage experience, he shows anger and helplessness. However, by the end of the film, after listening to his life story, the father expresses admiration for his daughter-in-law. The father says that even though he is a billionaire in terms of money, he is impoverished in terms of emotions.

The film does not provide a definitive stance on these two aspects but simply conveys different feelings.

The pattern that the father despises is not entirely wrong, as his son is an exception. Similarly, the Chinese pattern that he looks down upon may also have exceptions.

Therefore, when Xu Lingjun decides to stay, his father understands. When they are on their way to the Beijing airport, he is filled with nostalgia and reluctance, already deciding to return to his roots a hundred years later.

From initial disdain to seeing hope in the end, both generations have grown through each other. Ironically, the father, who initially wanted to change his son, ends up being changed by him.

In the end, Xu Lingjun chooses not to leave this land. On one hand, it is for the sake of the country he speaks of, and on the other hand, it is for the people in this "home." His neighbors, his students at school, and his wife and children. These are things that have become ingrained in his blood and cannot be erased or abandoned.

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