• James Tam

37 - A Beautiful Movie 一套感人的电影 “37”


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.

“37” 是一部中港合作电影。导演是香港电影发展局的新锐陈国新。演员包括刘晓庆,杨采妮和林妙可。

当友人彭博士邀请我观赏“37”的时候,我起初的反应老实说是少许忧心,恐怕半场熟睡而失礼老友。我一年上不了一次电影院。因为看一般的“流行电影”时总忍不住诸多挑剔,连自己也觉得扫兴兼讨厌。独立制作和实验电影间中会带来惊喜。可惜多数艺术创作都有点玄,令我散场后一头雾水,精神仿佛。说起来也奇怪:有条理的平铺直叙其实在日常生活中十分罕有,毫不寻常,但艺术家门似乎仍然觉得要转弯抹角才能突出创意。

一部以“37”为名的电影,据说片中不少草原风光和蒙古“有机”儿童的歌舞场面,当然令我疑心顿起。于是看前做足了负面心里准备。想不到竟然是一部难得佳作:风光如画,音乐恰当,故事动人。刘晓庆和一班孩子们的演出清纯自然。导演手法简洁,恰到好处。均值一赞。

动人的故事不一定要剧情复杂。“37”的迷人之处,就是能够以简单的情节直透人心。我介绍看过的人,都说90分钟内哭掉了整包纸巾。

一个香港的单身妈妈女强人(杨采妮)和小女儿(林妙可)到蒙古半公干半渡假。他们开头对一切充满戒心,连面包车的座椅扶手也要先铺上纸巾才安心上座。结果经过小孩子之间的天真接触和友情发展,妈妈才茅塞顿开。一次的蒙古旅程,替母女俩带来不少启发。故事就那么简单。寓意也很明显。导演很聪明地没有过份卖弄。

被金钱物质牵着鼻钩着心过活的城市人,精神紧张疲乏。到了相对“落后”的草原,面对所有事物都疑神疑鬼。既担心卫生条件不足,又怕被“穷人”敲竹杠,更怕蛇虫鼠蚁咬。美丽的大自然没有臆想中的浪漫:远观还勉强可以,近玩则浑身难过。相比之下,被大漠孕育出来的人胸襟辽阔,气量坦然。对他们来说,地在脚下,天在当前。大自然美丽,可爱,可畏,神秘,慷慨,养育着大家。

自作聪明的人类不断把环境改变。但曾经改造和被破坏的生态环境,会反过来改变生活在其中的人的身心健康。这是自然定律,也是因果循环。无可避免。

看过电影后,跟香港方面的制片人李志刚聊了半天。李志刚多才多艺,是风险投资家,也是业余音乐家和剧作家。多年来还管理一队爵士乐队。他也是演讲高手,十分健谈。说到他的制作时更是口若悬河。

“37”源于凤凰卫视王纪元先生的一个想法。据说王先生童年时曾经在内蒙渡过,觉得很多零星族裔靠世代口传的歌曲很容易被遗忘,以至失传。他希望统筹呼伦贝尔五彩儿童合唱团把不同方言的民歌收集演出,拍成纪录片,并邀请李志刚参予。李志刚一下子就被37位小朋友的歌声当场迷住。接着是一个想法引出另一个念头。在香港电影发展局和内地资金的支持下,原来计划的纪录片终于变成了电影“37”。

李志刚将“37” 媲美 “仙乐飘飘处处闻”。但我觉得“37”除了有同样迷人的儿童演员和音乐之外,更带有急切的时代讯息。生活在21世纪的智人物质过剩,却多方失衡。看了“37”可能会对人类的所谓发展作出片刻反思。

“37” 现在可以免费于 Letv 欣赏。链接如下: http://www.letv.com/ptv/vplay/1645651.html。

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