Possessing the status of a British colony after the first opium war, before July 1, 1997, Hong Kong became a separate administrative region of China. With the rapid growth of the economy in Hong Kong, the city quickly became one of the world’s most developed and desired metropolises. In the 1980s, Hong Kong already became a multicultural, economically developed city that offered luxuriant chances and unpredictable future for anyone entering it. The film “Comrades, Almost a Love Story” depicts the period of the city’s growth and development from 1986 to 1995. It was one of the most significant periods in the history of the city while it again became a part of China and became the accumulation of immigrants from Chinese mainlands. The paper concentrates on the depiction of the city as the metropolis that never sleeps and offers new chances, opportunities, and personal growth to those strong enough not to undergo temptations and evils of a big city.
The immigration of the mainlanders to Hong Kong began in the 1980s when the city’s economic and social development experienced rapid increase. After the Great Cultural Revolution in the 1970s, mainlanders who gained more freedom in 1980s rushed to Hong Kong that became a major trade hub and a financial center of Asia. As a rule, the main thing that attracted all people from the mainland in the big city was the money. With hope they could earn lots of money, gain a remarkable social status and fulfill any of their dreams, people left their homes, wives, children and moved to the metropolis.
The main characters of the film “Comrades, Almost a Love Story”, Li Xiao-Jun and Li Qiao are the representatives of the immigrant population of Chinese society. Nevertheless, lots of immigrants moved to Hong Kong successfully, they encountered many difficulties while finding a job, apartment, or a place in the big city. Moreover, expecting too much at once made them feel desperate and disappointed with the big city’s lifestyle and speed of life. One of the reasons people experienced difficulties was the language. The official language of China is Mandarin, but Hong Kong uses one of its dialects – the Cantonese language. As a result, those who come to Hong Kong and speak Mandarin but not Cantonese were directly labeled “mainlanders” and mostly disregarded. Moreover, it was a challenge for them to find a job not knowing how to communicate with native Hong Kongers.
Nonetheless, the film “Comrades, Almost a Love Story” is a romantic drama, it demonstrates Hong Kong as the center of economic and technological development. The first utilization of credit cards and pagers, the uniqueness of McDonald’s, the surprise on the faces of passers-by when noticing a person on the bicycle only magnify the image of the city. Still, being a city of big opportunities, the city offers a lot of challenges for those trying to earn money to achieve their aim. Furthermore, the film depicts the influence of money on the Hong Kong’s society and social relations. For instance, those who came from the province were disrespected and considered paupers by native Hong Kongers. The employees offered humiliating and low-paid jobs until they were able to assimilate the behavior, style, and language of the natives.
The main hero, Li Xiao-Jun applied for a job at McDonald’s but when the manager found out he did not know Cantonese refused even to take the application form. Li Qiao was luckier than Li Xiao-Jun while she came from a small city Guangzhou where Cantonese was a spoken language. As a result, she succeeded in getting a job at McDonald’s and a number of part-time jobs. Although, native Hong Kongers being too proud of their origin disregarded immigrants while they considered their status in the society considerably lower. One more episode depicting the city from the cultural perspective was the scene of Li Qiao’s selling Teresa Teng’s records. While only mainlanders were listening to the singer’s songs, no one wanted to reveal his/her true origin and no one bought the records. All in all, if a person wanted to become a true Hong Konger, he/she has no right to behave differently than the absolute mass.
Hong Kong is a city where western and eastern cultures mix. It is a city where people experience the western culture, and, at the same time, maintain the traditional Chinese lifestyle and way of thinking. For instance, the citizens of Hong Kong learn English, eat western food, drink coffee, and watch western movies. In the film, the mixture of the cultures is described through Li Xiao-Jun’s aunt who was dating with a British movie star William. Moreover, the city offered better chances in job search and level of life for those who had some English language skills. The citizens of the city accepted the western culture, but they also developed and maintained their native one. Nowadays, there exist two types of Chinese letters – the Simplified Chinese Characters and the Traditional Chinese Characters. Anyone can find them in the Internet encyclopedias, on their smartphones or any other device. It is the result of mainland’s simplification of the Chinese characters that was established to make handwriting easier and convenient. However, such actions actually deprived the majority of Chinese people of their traditional culture. Nevertheless, Hong Kong continued to teach teenagers the Traditional way of Chinese characters, therefore keeping the culture and original language alive.
Moreover, the film depicts the unsteady and complicated social environment in the city. Li Qiao’s husband worked for mobdom and, therefore, had a lot of money. While the way he earns money was illegal, he soon got into trouble with the police and was obliged to leave Hong Kong. The phenomenon of mobdom was very popular in the city and made people join it for various reasons: either money, status, or women. Some people were attracted to it just because they considered it a trendy occupation. Unfortunately, a lot of people resorted to unfaithful and illegal ways of earning money while such ways offered a good profit. As a result, the wrong path brought them not only money but also a bunch of problems with the police and more influential “earners”.
To conclude, Hong Kong is a Chinese New York, offering new possibilities, and chances to live better and fulfill one’s dream. It is a city that can become a home for the individual of any social status and origin. However, it is a different question whether the way for individual to call Hong Kong home is easy and steady. On the one hand, the city is a good place for rich to settle down while it offers an enormous variety of attractions, and occupations. Moreover, it is a good place for poor who want to become rich while it provides a great number of resources and opportunities to achieve something worthy. On the other hand, the city is a dangerous place for those unconfident and weak enough to undergo the temptations of the big city. As a result, in a pursuit of money and social status a person loses his/her individuality, and moral values. All in all, depicting the city, the film teaches the world that neither social status nor money offered by great opportunities of the metropolis could replace family and loving people.