My story depicts a period of a concubine’s bound life. She has gained a lot since being consumed by her man in both dream and reality. In reminiscence, as she remembers her life from the end back to the beginning, she has vivid dreams that evoke her longing desire. She finds it hard to disengage from her current situation, because the path in her dream is breaking and falling apart. She could not go back, even in the dream. Finally, she is disconnected from her dream and brought back into reality. In a blink of an eye, she looks at the emperor and carefully starts to serve the emperor as shown in the opening scene.
According to my grandmother’s story of her early life experience, her families lived with struggle at the time of the Chinese Great Cultural Revolution. My grandfather’s families were Intellectuals and landowners, and they were criticized and denounced. However, they supported the leader and government. Most of the Intellectuals and landowners‘ property was confiscated or destroyed in the end. Intellectuals and landowners were banished or locked up by others. My grandfather joined the army for battle although he was an Intellectual. My grandmother lost everything except her five children including my father who was nearly five years old. Since then, they went into a different life with no money, no food, no education and no smile every day. Finally, my grandmother took her children, left Shandong and went to Nanjing. At my grandmother’s time, women could not go to school because people thought that women did not need to study because of old traditions. Cooking, sewing, having kids and taking care of them were their career for their whole life. Therefore, for women it was hard to find a job outside of the family, especially for my grandmother who had five kids. Life was like a stubborn cage where women were inside, and people’s minds were also bound in a cage, and women were outside of that cage. However, life needed to go on for some reasons such as for those young lives. My grandmother dropped off her dignity, and went out to pick waste such as scrap iron, goose feathers and grain, because she needed money to eat. Fortunately, life is like that. As long as we can insist on holding hope, we can carry on. My families did. They “put down” something while “picking up” something else. I created an animation, Ya-er (2009), as a life-recording gift to my grandparents and their families.
My intention for this project is to present a Chinese cultural and traditional style to my audience. On the other hand, I want to inspire them to recall their memory and consider what is the meaning of life to them individually. When they follow the girl’s experience in my film, I hope people will be able to ask themselves, “If I also live my life within a golden cage, how would that affect me? Have I felt satisfied in my life?”
Dupp (Pengpeng Du)