After the victory of the Anti-Japanese War, China came into a relatively peaceful stage. In the post-war period, a number of outstanding films reflected the shift of people's minds and desires from war issues to inner feelings of ordinary people. These films were called the Heart Films.
The films focused the camera lens at the ordinary people and the strife in their ordinary lives. They showed human nature and feelings and the complicated inner world of people with a true portrayal of the characters' daily lives as well as the national crises and social development.
The most outstanding films of the style are Lights of Myriad Families, directed by Shen Fu. The film seems placid and mild, but it is actually profound. It depicts the post-war life of the petty bourgeoisies in the Kuomintang-ruled area. Hu Zhiqing, the leading character, is an employee in a company. He is kind and upright and works with his heart and soul for the company. His wife Youlan manages the family affairs methodically. Beijing bankrupt in the rural area, Hu's mother and younger brother go to Shanghai and join the couple. The family runs into difficulties as its members increase, prices skyrocket, and the family members are at odds with each other. Later, Hu is fired and the family is in a hopeless situation. Contradictions and disturbances arise one after another. The film shows the circumstances of a family, but it is actually the society in miniature. Though there exist bitter discords among the family members, there are moments of love and mutual understandings. "We should try to survive," says the leading character at the end of the film. "Let's be closer to each other." His remark hints at the meaning of striving for existence through unity and struggle, making the film shine with ideological brilliance.
Another film is Transient Joy in Heaven, directed by Tang Xiaodan, showing in a plain, true manner of the social life and the sufferings of the intellectuals, government employees and teachers in Shanghai in the post war period. Ding Jianhua, the leading character, an upright man, is an engineer who contributed to the Anti-Japanese War. After the victory, he dreams about a peaceful and happy life. When he returns to Shanghai from Chongqing with his wife, what waits for him is unemployment. He has no choice but to sell the design of a house he has drawn for himself and his family. In the end he and his family lead a wandering life in the street. Meanwhile, a man named Gong, who turns himself into a Kuomintang "underground activity worker", continues to ride roughshod over others. He drives the Ding family out of their house and builds a sumptuous residence on the site according to Ding Jianhua's design. The direction of the film's spearhead of criticism and sarcasm was obvious.
The Spring of a Small Town is another film depicting people's inner world through three characters' feelings in 10 days in a southern small town. The film was regarded as the China-style psychological film. It is the representative film made by Chinese intellectuals and becomes one of the most outstanding films in the history of China-made films for its remarkable artistic achievements and touching plots.
(chinaculture.org January 18, 2004)