Love Movie

Den goda viljan Good faith betrayal? The Real Choice

In 1988, I was studying in a small, quiet town in southern Ganzhou. I remember one night, I talked to my classmates about my wish: to devote myself to a noble cause, even if I had to live an ascetic life. I was nineteen years old, an age full of fantasies and contradictions. Although Beidao’s lines: “From the bullet holes of the stars / flows the blood-red dawn” and “Let the heavy shadow be like a road / through the whole country” had deeply influenced me, they were gradually receding from my spiritual territory, and were replaced by Yu Jian’s lines “Old Wu’s pants were hanging on the second floor / and when he shouted, a head with glasses emerged from his crotch”. What stirred my memories was a film, “The Betrayal of Good Intentions” , in which I vaguely saw my own shadow in the male protagonist Henry.

This film won the Palme d’Or for Best Film and Best Actress at the 45th Cannes Film Festival in 1992. Reviewing an award-winning film is always risk-free and therefore seems easier, but for me, it was actually quite a struggle because I didn’t think I had the mental capacity to interpret it. The reason I took the plunge was because I loved the film so much. The film’s director, Bill August, won the Palme d’Or in 1989 for his film Belle de Conquistre, and the screenplay is by the famous Swedish filmmaker Ingmar Bergman. In fact, the film’s Henry and Anna is Bergman’s own parents as the model for the characters.

The plot is that Henry, a seminary student, befriends his sister Anna through his classmate Enns and falls in love with her at first sight. Anna’s mother, keenly aware of the difference in origin and character between the young man who will become a priest and her own willful daughter, tries her best to interfere, but in the end, it does not work. Henry and Anna were married. After the marriage, Anna came with her husband to the cold, hard northern town, Henry became a priest, Anna also took up the responsibility of the priest’s mother. As the years passed, Anna gave birth to a son, Ade, and Henry was recommended for transfer to the court church in Stockholm because of his excellent work performance. But Henry refused the post and remained in the area, despite Anna’s objections. Unwilling to put up with Henry’s arbitrariness and the hardships of life, Anna leaves her husband with her child and returns to her mother. At the end of the film, Henry finally decides to accept the appointment, and he comes to Anna to tell her his decision, and they finally reconcile.

Henry comes from a poor background, discrimination and loneliness have created a lonely, paranoid, sensitive and hateful side of his character. Five minutes into the film, Henry meets with his grandfather in a scene that explains these characteristics of Henry’s character in advance: his grandfather begs Henry to see his dying grandmother one last time, but Henry flatly refuses, and Henry takes revenge on his grandparents for their long-standing indifference and discrimination against him and his mother. And perhaps it is this personality and experience that provides the breeding ground for Henry’s faith in the other world (God incarnate) (how ugly the real world is, and how worldly pleasures Henry has never tasted). Anna is the opposite, comfortable environment and good family conditions cultivated her capricious, she is used to excessive freedom, so once repressed will be instinctively resisted, so she will defy her mother’s obstruction to insist on the union with Henry. However, what kind of a union will this be? In the three-hour long film, there are five places directly depicting the conflict between Anna and Henry, which I will use ABCDE to indicate in the following.

A. The conflict between Henry and Anna had a violent outburst long before the wedding, which came when they discussed the location of the wedding. Henry told Anna that he did not want to go to her hometown for a grand wedding, and Anna thought that Henry had broken his promise, which she accused him of “elegant revenge”, counting Henry’s “boasting of his poor and miserable childhood, his mother”, ” dandruff and dirty nails, the smell of sweat and acid”, that he was “rude, lying” and “behaved more lowly than his birth”. Finally, Henry made a concession and said “the wedding can be held anywhere.

B. After the wedding, the Henrys arrive in a small northern town, and Anna, puzzled and discontented by the lack of a separate bedroom for herself, asks, “Where will I read, write letters, and do my accounting?” But then, noticing Henry’s unhappy expression, she stops asking, and this time, it becomes Anna who gives in. This forbearing role reversal is noteworthy. If I had some understanding and sympathy for Henry before this, gradually the scales of my emotions may be tilted more and more to Anna’s side. In the next set of images depicting the pastor and his wife getting along and working hard, there is one that impressed me deeply: under the obscure leaden gray sky, windy and rough river, the figures of Anna and Henry washing clothes look so thin and weak, this distant shot reveals exactly the poor living environment in which the Henrys live.

C. Enns came all the way to visit his sister and brought a Christmas present – a gramophone. With the music of the gramophone, Enns teaches his sister to dance the fashionable step dance. Anna, not wanting her husband to be left out, enthusiastically pulls Henry around and spins him around, only to be roughly pushed into a chair. Henry turned and walked away, the child cried out in fear. After a while, Henry came back and apologized, saying that he was “very silly and jealous and spoiled the fun”.

D. After Henry and his wife finished seeing the queen, Henry felt his pride hurt and, in a fit of rage, said incoherently that he would not accept a position in the court church. Anna, who wanted her husband to accept the new position, angrily interrupted her husband’s whining, accusing him of tainting his loyalty and completely ignoring her existence as his wife and closest companion by his arbitrariness and headstrongness.

E. Pease, a young boy taken in by Mr. and Mrs. Henry, nearly killed Mr. and Mrs. Henry’s infant son, Ade, in retaliation for learning that he would be immediately sent back to his relatives. This incident prompts Anna to make up her mind to leave Henry and return to her mother. Before she leaves, she asks Henry to reconsider accepting a position at the court church.

What is the theme of this movie? What is the root cause of Henry and Anna’s marital crisis? Is it the divide between people, repression and rebellion Henry’s grandparents and Henry, Anna’s mother and Anna, Henry and Anna, it is worth asking why some people suffer from repression, but in the end, they always repress others, as Henry did? What is the irreconcilable contradiction between the constant presence on the other side of sacred faith and the even presence on this side of worldly comfort? The devouring damage of love by a resentful mind? All are possible, and this is where the richness of good cinema lies.

The combination of Henry’s resentful personality and his belief in God is disastrous; the former leads not only to his jealousy and vindictiveness, but coupled with the latter also to the apparent moral superiority in him and the arbitrariness it engenders. Max Scherer defined resentment: “Resentment is a self-poisoning of the mind with definite antecedents and consequences.” (from Max Scheler’s The Subversion of Values, Beijing Sanlian, 1997, p. 7, “Resentment in the Construction of Morality”), due to the limitation of space, we will not discuss the cause and growth of resentment here, but interested readers can go to the book themselves.

And what about Anna? She does not believe in God, and it is entirely possible that her willingness to serve her congregation, as Henry does, is motivated by the goodness of her nature and her love and loyalty to Henry. Moreover, there was a rebellious element in Anna’s character, she was a capricious and, so to speak, a woman used to free choice and pursuit, for which she not only disobeyed her mother’s wishes , but also betrayed Henry.

Henry is not tolerant of dissent and is tyrannical, but at the same time he is hard-working and dedicated. He helps the congregation, but also tries to control it not obviously, but occasionally. Resentment and absolute faith were the main motivating factors for his behavior. This brings me to another kind of faith, which, when combined with power, always deviates into the brutal control and enslavement of people, the unwarranted denial of the individual’s right to free choice, and the abolition and obliteration of the individual’s eventual presence. The TV series “How Steel is Made” was a big hit the other day and I was very surprised: who is doing the hype, right? How come it has come back again after a turn? Still advocating and promoting the spirit of sacrifice for the country, the nation, the revolution and the people In a novel by Shuo, there is an episode in which two girls, faced with the accusation of “how can we expect you to go and block the gunshot?

The official discourse system always concocts a moral star every now and then, whether in fictional literary works or real people from all walks of life, the spiritual motivation of which is invariably integrated into the love for the people of the country of the political party. The reason for this is, as Liu Xiaofeng puts it, “party ideology is different from party philosophy in the structure of a representative system, which is not integrated with social ethics, religious beliefs and the state apparatus; the anchor of party philosophy is within the functional scope of party politics. The ideologization of the party idea means not only the elevation of its political idea to a sacred truth in history, a belief, but also its integration with the institutional establishment of ruling power and society.” And nationalized party ethics means that “after the party acquires state power, the ethics of the party is transformed into an ethic that regulates all members of society and becomes the ethic of the social everyday, so that the social everyday ethic becomes an extended order of party ideology……. The individual liberal civic ethics that developed during the modernization of Europe and America replaced the effectiveness of the Christian ethics.”

The legitimacy of such ideological propaganda is not to be considered here. And what kind of effect?

Henry’s demand that Anna also devote herself to God and undergo the hard, sharp tests of life did not succeed, because Henry’s love for God was not a reason for Anna to love God as well; likewise, Henry’s willingness to undergo the harshest tests did not mean that Anna should at the same time follow willingly. Not even in the name of love . Perhaps it was Henry’s religious temperament that initially attracted Anna, but time proved that Anna was not able to endure the ordeal. And it is Anna’s authenticity that is so valuable that she cannot bear it and leaves, albeit with the guilt of betrayal. You can say that Anna wanted to be comfortable, but even so, it is not a sin if she did not get in the way of others. Between her love for Henry and finding her lost self through this love, Anna wandered and struggled, and finally, chose the latter.

But this choice is by no means permanent, and at the end of the film, when Henry tells Anna that he has accepted his court appointment and intends to take up his post in Stockholm in the fall, Anna asks heartbreakingly, “But can we understand each other?” Anna’s question was in fact a result of doubts arising from her thorough knowledge of each other’s personalities. Henry’s concession does not mean a change in his beliefs and character; he will still be arbitrary, uncomfortable with the dream-like warmth of family life, and unconcerned with Anna’s feelings, and Anna’s individual rights will not allow her to be submissive. In the future, there will still be such quarrels, nastiness and hurt, and the superficial wounds that are healed will be torn open again and again, even if they can be understood and forgotten.

The last frame of the film, in the greenery, Anna and Henry, who have been apart for a long time, sit on two adjacent benches, staring at each other, carefully and sadly.

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