Sunday, 11 March 2012

再說《桃姐》

其實《桃姐》最令人動容之處,不是桃姐與Roger之間的情誼,也不是不同的人如何面對年老、疾病和死亡,而是導演對老人、對人生最後一程的關懷與注視。

電影以接近紀錄片的寫實手法,描述老人院裡的眾生相,啟發觀眾對年老、疾病和死亡的思考。透過充滿關懷和溫情的筆觸,細膩地描繪老人所面臨的各種問題,活現於觀眾眼前,但沒有引起反感,只讓人深深感受到正視議題的迫切。更難得的是,導演沒有遽下斷語,是好是壞、如何處理,全憑觀眾定奪。

生、老、病、死是人生的必經階段,然而最叫人喜悅的「生」,卻維時最短。面對「老」、「病」、「死」,再豁達的人也難以開懷,只能坦然接受。桃姐自尊心重、要強好勝,雖患重病,始終不吭一聲,積極接受治療,以期早日康復。可是有些院友沒有像她幸運,腦袋退化了,身體衰弱了,連日常起居也需要別人照顧。如果那是自己的家人,應該如何照顧他?所謂「久病床前無孝子」,照顧患病老人是勞心勞力的長期消耗戰,即使再孝順、再有愛心和耐性,面對繁重工作和生活瑣事內外交煎,也難免有意志消磨的一刻,自己真的應付得來嗎?除了照顧老人的吃喝拉撒,我們還有餘力關心他們心裡想些甚麼嗎?或者,如果那是自己日後的寫照,又應該如何面對?

在香港一般家庭中,父母就是最常見的長者。看戲的時候,總難免對號入座,反省自己與父母的關係。江美儀與許碧姬合演的母女,一濃一淡、一動一靜,大概最能引起觀眾的共鳴。其實問題不在於愛與不愛,而是怎樣表達,才符合彼此的期望和要求。每個人的性格不盡相同,有些人喜歡明刀明槍,有些卻寧可心照不宣,所以沒有對與不對,更不能一本通書讀到老,只有適合不適合。也許年輕人生活太忙碌,或者過分自我,往往只懂得從自己的角度出發,沒有設身處地站在對方的立場思考,遑論理解了。年長者又可能拙於言辭、不擅表達,無法符合年輕人講究直接明快的要求,以為對方自然明白,結果誤會愈積愈深。更何況,瞭解不代表接受,體諒不表示認同;要怎樣處理人與人之間的微妙關係,怎樣調整自己的看法和心情,怎樣表現愛護和關心,才能彼此舒心和樂,也是一門終身學習的功課。即使親如父母子女,同樣無法迴避。

除了觀照自己,導演也不忘提醒我們,老年、疾病與死亡既是人生之必然,正是「他朝君體也相同」,作為社會的一分子,也應該好好思考,整個社會不同環節應該怎樣和衷共濟,應付人口老化的現象。戲裡沒有辛辣銳利的鞭撻,卻有發人深省的醍醐灌頂。看劉德華到老人院查探行情,與宮雪花和黃秋生的一席話,真是笑中有淚。

幾曾見過回歸後的香港電影有這麼豐富的人生啟迪和社會意味?《桃姐》意蘊深邃而不失親切從容,娛樂與藝術並重,令人易於接受,可以說是繼承了戰後香港電影的人文傳統,同時為後來者樹立了嶄新的典範。

6 comments:

  1. Samson10:47 am

    I have not got a chance to see the film yet. My understanding about the film basically came from news reports and reviews in magazines. I have first hand experience on the conditions of seniors’ homes in Hong Kong. I witnessed the pathetic situations of many helpless people living there waiting to die. It is an acute social problem with or without the film to expose.

    However, I do not like the basic theme that the film tries to glorify. That is the master-servant relationship. In this day such feudal tribal master-servant relationship should not be promoted let alone glorified.

    Samson
    Ontario, Canada

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  2. Perhaps you would have a better idea of the film after watching it. I don't think the entertainment news reports have captured the gist of it. Neither do I agree that the film is trying to glorify the master-servant relationship. What may seem paradoxical is that love, intimacy and mutual respect between individuals that used to develop over time shines so brilliantly in this so-called "feudal tribal relationship" in the story. When everything is calculated on equal footing for the sake of maximising self-interest, mutual respect just vanishes into thin air.
    This also reminds me of the case of education. These days too many students and parents see themselves as consumers who pay and receive good grades in return, rather than someone who pays for an opportunity to learn. They see teachers and schools as service providers rather than respectful institutions that help shape their lives. To me this is by all means outrageous and unacceptable. Education is just not business for profit.

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  3. Anonymous5:10 am

    Agree that education should not be just a tool to equip one to rip profits in the commercial world. Love, intimacy and mutual respect are the core values of mankind. If we do not love each other and other future generations, we may degenerate to the class of cocodiles eating the youngsters for belly filling. Love, hope, faith(I mean faith in the kindness of human beings, not necessarily faith in any religious beliefs) are the corner stones of our existence and a sustainable life on this planet.
    No matter what, our lifes are short and we sometimes retreat to our dwellings and just enjoy a piece of good music, a play and some good companions.
    Life is spendid as long as we live the best out of every minute and every second. By the time we are physically disabled, we hope our offsprings will carry on with the good will............

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  4. Samson8:47 am

    An assessment on artistic and entertainment merits for a film or a play is relatively easy. Most if not all awards are based on this kind of assessments. However, an assessment on social and moral merits is not easy and controversial.

    It is inconceivable of me to deny a loving relationship between two human beings be they mater/servant, lovers, parents/children, siblings or even strangers. This is the ideal of our humanity. However, I must say the true love between master/servant is extremely rare. In the olden days the servant basically had little choice. If they had a decent master, they may as well dedicate their loyalty and life to the master. The film is said to be based on a real story. Only the author can answer questions such as “Does he reminisce the loving relationship or the comfort he had enjoyed?” “Does he prefer a master/servant or a employer/employee relationship?” “Did he ever give any thoughts about the life of his servant?” “Is the arrangement the best option for the servant?” I have many more questions to list. Actually only the author can give true answers. In HK no authors are that open when they already see the success of their works.

    Another example you may take a look is the play “A Doll’s House” also known as “Nora” by Ibsen. It is a controversial play since the beginning. When it was performed in Shanghai in the 1930s, a hot debate followed. Should or should not Nora slam the door and leave? It was presented by the Left as a championing work for the Women’s Right movement. In Ibsen’s own words “…must disclaim the honour of having consciously worked for the women’s right movement….without any conscious thought of making propaganda.” his task having been “the description of humanity”.

    Ask the author what the real theme of the play/film/dram is.

    Samson
    Ontario, Canada

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  5. Samson4:13 am

    Take a look at a scene that 桃姐 keeps the childhood clothes etc. of her master in her chest as memorabilia. That is hailed as a demonstration of her love towards the master. It may well be that since she has no child of her own, she takes the younger master as her surrogate son.

    In another scene that桃姐 has dinner with her master, she is depicted as uneasy. Why? Does she think she is not good enough to sit at the same table with the master? Would any mother feel uneasy to have dinner with her son? Think about the theme behind these scenes. Dose the author want to perpetuate the inferiors slavery complex of the servant class? Or does he lament the loss of his superiority master complex of another time?

    I love European opera. When it comes to love stories in the foreign lands, China, Japan, India etc. it is always that the foreign women falling in love with white male characters, never the other way round. Example: “Madama Butterfly”, “Turandot” , “Lakme”, even Broadway musical “Miss Saigon”. Call it racism, male chauvinism, or other modern labels. Do I, as a Chinese man, refuse to see these operas? Absolutely not.

    We go to see a show for its entertainment merits, artistic presentation, our emotional resonance and reflections on our own lives. We do not go to the theatre to seek moral guidance.

    An interesting point to note. If those dramas created during the Cultural Revolution in China, are revived 20 or 30 years from now, people flock to see them not because of their revolutionary ideas, but because they are a good show.

    Samson
    Ontario, Canada

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  6. Anonymous - Thanks.
    Samson - Point taken and I can see where you come from. From what I saw in the film I don't feel any reminiscence of the master's superiority or perpetuation of the inferiority of servants. 桃姐 knows her position well and she adheres to what she believes. This is presented as a matter of fact without any value judgement. And this is what I appreciate the director Ann Hui most. Yet she is not the one who provides the story but her producer Roger Lee, who said in an interview that he is grateful to what 桃姐 had done for him.

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