Author: 公子于歌 / Gong Zi Yu Ge
Translator: Kinky || https://kinkytranslations.com/
Chapter 96: Beautiful
Someone immediately pulled Shen Jintai out of the river. He had become a chicken in soup*. The staff came forward and wrapped him in a blanket. Even though it was summer, the river was still pretty cold.
*(落汤鸡) Metaphor referring to those who are completely soaked or have suffered great loss of fame and fortune. In this context, it’s the former.
This one finally passed. He had jumped into the river three times before. Xiao Tang hurriedly handed him his thermos cup. He drank the hot tea and went to the monitor. Lu Ming said, “Thank you for your hard work.”
Shen Jintai watched the clip he had just shot, but he didn’t actually see the difference between this one and the previous ones. He was often confused when working with this director. Sometimes Lu Ming would take several shots in a row but wouldn’t tell him the specific areas that weren’t good. After retaking it many times, he looked back and couldn’t see what was different between them. It all comes down to trusting the great director.
Shen Jintai had become excited looking at his scene just now. It was cruel and burning.
After the filming, he went to the RV to rest. The crew assistant had already delivered a lunch box. Shen Jintai was video chatting with Shen Xiaomei while eating. This was a decompression method he discovered by chance, which is extremely useful.
The filming of the war drama <Pilot> was very arduous. The psychological damage it did to the actors was severe. The crew had invited special personnel to provide psychological counseling to the actors. Shen Jintai, though, felt that, no matter how skilled they were, they weren’t as good as Shen Xiaomei when it came to relieving him.
The child calling him “brother” in her milky voice was so cute that it made his heart want to melt. Every time he video chats with Shen Xiaomei, he becomes very happy.
Usually, Liu Qi would accompany her, and occasionally, Shen Ruhai would also be there, though he didn’t talk much. He would occasionally chat with him, making small talk like asking about work and how the food was on the crew and so forth. Shen Jintai had heard from Liu Qi that Shen Ruhai had started doing business again and opened a small factory as a joint venture with a friend. He had used all the money Shen Jintai had given him for this.
After the video chat was over, Shen Jintai planned to sleep for a while. Li Meilan said, “The Hope Elementary School in Xima Township is about to start construction. The local government had invited you to attend the groundbreaking ceremony. Are you going to go?”
“Not going.” Shen Jintai was lying on the couch. His expression was tired, and there was a small scar on his cheek. He said lightly, “Don’t have them commemorate my name at the school, and don’t let the company post any PR about it.”
Li Meilan felt that not only did Shen Jintai’s personality change drastically, but he even acted in an unexpectedly low-key manner. Fortunately, when he signed the contract, Monsoon Entertainment gave him great freedom. His low-key style was really a bit incompatible with Monsoon.
Shen Jintai’s salary for participating wasn’t high, but there were lots of endorsements. Between the daily expenses while on the crew, the company’s commission fees, gifts to the Yan family, and the living expenses of the Shen family, Shen Jintai didn’t have much left. He took more than half of what was left and donated it to Hope Elementary School in the Northwest region.
It had cost millions. Li Meilan had admired him very much.
Seeing that Shen Jintai was tired, she left. After giving Xiao Tang a few words, she went through the relevant procedures related to Hope Elementary School. This was the first time she had experienced the cumbersome process of donations. While tiresome, doing charity always made people motivated.
The weather in August was still hot, and Yan Qiuchi’s heart was even hotter. He found that Shen Jintai had been indifferent to him out of nowhere.
They weren’t lovers yet, so he rarely took the initiative to contact Shen Jintai, feeling that the teacher was unknown*. In the past, whenever he contacted Shen Jintai, their conversation was cordial, and even occasionally, Shen Jintai would video chat with him. But since his father’s birthday, when he contacted Shen Jintai, his answers would be very polite and brief.
*(师出无名) Refers to doing something without a legitimate reason. Originally, the meaning was that there was no legitimate reason for sending troops to fight. From the Books of Rites: Tan Gong Xia.
Their relationship shouldn’t be so polite and distant.
When a person falls in love, especially with their first love, the ups and downs before the relationship was certainly the most torturous. Yan Qiuchi couldn’t think of what he had done wrong. Because he couldn’t understand, he became more abrasive and planned to visit the set again.
It just so happens that he was going on a business trip to the city where Shen Jintai was filming. He used this as a pretext to stop by and visit the crew.
“Go and receive him,” Shen Jintai said to Xiao Tang.
Xiao Tang was very nervous. “What should I do?”
Shen Jintai said, “Just act like you always have. Everything will be the same old, same old. He’s a wise man.”
Shen Jintai was going to shoot the scene of Chen Zheng’s sacrifice today. It would be shot in the studio. The aerial combat scene would be filmed in front of the green screen. Once this scene was done, he’d be finished. This was also Cheng Zheng’s most highlighted moment.
“For the role of Chen Zheng, he wanted to be a movie star from the beginning. You know that he is a person who came from a wealthy background and grew up with praise and compliments. He has a bit of ideal heroism in him. The training he received was not enough for him to face the deaths of his comrades and the bloodshed and cruelty of war. The shroud of death left him with deep psychological trauma. Heroes are still human beings. The more human characteristics they possess, the greater the heroes they become. It’s not that these heroes are not afraid of death, but rather that many people do not have to face death, but they instead choose to go on the path towards death themselves.” Lu Ming spoke slowly but firmly to Shen Jintai.
Shen Jintai nodded.
There were seven famous sons on their fourth team. Some were returnees from overseas, and some were graduates from top universities like Peking University and Tsinghua University. Cumulatively, they had an average age of 23. Within only half a month, only two remained alive.
Before Chen Zheng went to the battlefield for the last time, he was left with deep psychological scars from witnessing Chu Heming’s death, so there were few lines to be delivered.
He handed Chu Heming’s air force bracelet to Captain Liu Gang. Then he returned to his residence and wrote a letter to his mother, who was far away in his hometown.
[When I aspired to join the army, I knew that I had to give my life unconditionally when necessary. If I dedicate my life to my country and can repel the Japanese invaders, I will never regret my death, but I am worried that after I die, I will still not be able to stop the enemy’s aggression, or the war will burn down my hometown. My mother is old, and no one will take care of her during the evacuation. Every time I think about it, I feel uneasy. If I die for my country, it will be to fulfill my duty as a soldier. I am worthy of my country, but for you, it is unfilial piety. In this situation, as your son, I can only pray for your understanding. Mother, when you receive this letter, your son will most likely no longer be alive. I have thousands and thousands of words to say, but I don’t know where to start. I only hope to be your son in the afterlife and stay by your side for the rest of your life. For filial piety to exist, China must first have peaceful times. — Your son’s last words.]
The actual scenes of the aerial combat and his sacrifice at the end were more dependent on special effects. In Shen Jintai’s view, the process of writing this letter was his most important scene in the drama.
When he read this letter while reading the script, he cried. When it was actually filmed, there were no tears. He used a very subtle expression to complete this several-minute performance. At the end, when he raised his eyes, they were red. His expression was solemn, and his gaze was sad, nostalgic, and determined.
At the age of 22, Shen Jintai was almost the same age as Chen Zheng. More than ten hours after writing this letter, on May 3rd, 1939, the Japanese bombed Chongqing, killing 4,000 people and leaving 200,000 homeless. Chen Zheng broke through the siege of eight enemy aircraft and rushed to the enemy’s warship with his fighter jet that accompanied him in death.
The light technician shone a light on his eyes as Shen Jintai looked at the camera, thinking only one thing, ‘A strong man will fly towards the winds and clouds and swear to serve the country to the death.’
Shen Jintai quickly pulled his emotions back. He breathed a sigh of relief, took off his goggles and hat, and climbed down from the hanging fighter jet under the protection of the staff.
Lu Ming stood up, took the horn, and said, “Congratulations to our Chen Zheng and Shen Jintai. The last shot has been successfully completed, and the battle is over!”
The exits of each actor were lively. Shen Jintai smiled and took pictures with everyone one by one while holding flowers. His eyes were moist.
It was raining today. After leaving the studio, the rain still hadn’t subsided. As soon as Shen Jintai got in the car, he said to Li Meilan, “I will never act in this kind of drama again.”
He was so exhausted that he even rejected the crew’s dinner party. He lay half-dead in the car as it drove back to the hotel.
Xiao Tang said, “President Yan is also staying in the same hotel where we’re staying.”
Shen Jintai closed his eyes and let out a “Nn” as he continued to lay there. He suddenly faintly said, “The screenwriter told me that Mother Chen adopted a child who was homeless during the war. He adopted Chen Zheng’s name and took the name Chen Zhi, which means Chengzhi*.”
*Clarity: You will need to use Google Translate to access that Wikipedia link. Basically, the name of the adopted kid combined becomes Chenzhi, which is linked to an actual person in history during the Sino-Japanese war. Chen Zheng’s character is supposed to be an archetype for all the pilots who fought in this war.
This is the case with good screenwriters. Even if the movie was not bad, the background of each character had been set up as if they really existed.
Shen Jintai smiled slightly after speaking. A tear slipped from the corner of his eye. He stretched out his hand to wipe it away and turned to look at the car window that was covered with water.
Li Meilan looked across at him. She felt that Shen Jintai was beautiful. It seemed strange to use such a word to describe a man, but she felt that this word was appropriate for describing an actor, particularly Shen Jintai. His body inherited the full charm of an actor. He followed the lives and deaths of his characters. When he was immersed in his role, his whole body was covered with the light that graces only actors.
Xima Township is the hometown of Chen Zheng’s character prototype. It was one of the main reasons why Shen Jintai donated to the construction of the elementary school.
When the car was about to arrive at the hotel, it passed by the banks of the Yangtze River. There was a park along the coast, just opposite the hotel.
Shen Jintai said to Xiao Tang, “Stop here. I’m a little bored and want to go out for a walk.”
Li Meilan knew that he hadn’t fully come out of his character yet from filming, so she gave him an umbrella. “It might be cold. Put on your coat.”
Shen Jintai put on a coat and got out of the car. Since it was raining, there was no one on the riverside road. The wind was blowing over the river, bringing a slight chill. Shen Jintai took off his mask, held his umbrella, and walked along the banks. After walking close to four miles, he stood for a while, gazing at the vast Yangtze River.
Chen Zheng finally fell into the Yangtze River. Generations had passed, only to see its flow. He stood by the river, facing the wind, and watched as twilight fell and the rain got heavier. He turned around to walk back.
His mind was heavy, and he didn’t even know what he was thinking. It felt empty. Looking at the splashes of rain on the ground, the emotions in his heart finally accumulated and found an outlet for his catharsis. While he didn’t shed a single tear when he was filming, they all flowed out at this moment.
So heavy. So painful.
Suddenly, he saw someone stop in front of him. The figure was wearing gray suit pants that were already soaked, causing the color to look very dark.
Shen Jintai slowly raised his umbrella as he took in full view of the person who was holding the same black umbrella as him.
The author has something to say:
First, read the paragraph written by Chen Zheng in <Numb>.
Second, all the content of <Pilot> was adapted from real historical materials. Every time I search for information, my eyes fill with tears, and I can’t bear to read the history or about the heroes.
Third, the section of Xima Township poked me. Touhua is so beautiful. At this moment, I am a gold powder.
Fourth, please think of the last scene as an idol drama trailer.
That letter gave me chills. Common author. I thought you said no more dog blood… So instead, you just give me literal blood. I’m going to get psychological trauma here if the next movie ends tragically!!!
At this rate, I’m certain that every drama Shen Jintai acts in is going to have me bawling… Not that I’m complaining.