Is Cliff the best spy war drama to build the "most exquisite" underground party?

[Text/Observer Network Yan Shanshan, Editor/Longyang] "Don’t you think your beliefs are ridiculous? All the promises of Marx, you communist party can’t do it at all! "

"We can certainly do it. In the near future, there will be a new government, without an emperor, powerful people, exploitation and oppression, which will not humiliate the country and allow the people to live with dignity. The new government will not enslave the people. We do this, maybe ten years, maybe twenty years, maybe a hundred years. " In Cliff, Zhou Yi foresaw the future in her faith when she was interrogated by officials of the "Puppet Manchukuo".

Recently, the TV series Cliff was replayed in CCTV 8. This spy war drama, which swept the Magnolia Award and the Golden Eagle Award, and the heroine Song Jia defeated Sun Li (shortlisted by Empresses in the Palace) and won the Magnolia Award, was revived.

Nine years after its premiere, Zhang Yimou’s prequel film Above the Cliff won 1.18 billion box office, which not only enabled the same writer-YongXian Quan, but also continued the relationship between the characters in the TV series. The movie protagonist (Yu Hewei) and the TV series protagonist (Zhang Jiayi) were the same person-Zhou Yi.

Liu Jin, the director of Cliff, later won the best director of Magnolia Award for "White Deer Plain" and served as the chairman of the jury of Magnolia Award TV series this year; Yongmei, the second female in the play, became the first Berlin-winning actress in China in 2019.

However, with so many hidden surprises, the Douban score of Cliff 8.4 is still inferior to that of Hidden (September 4, 2009) and Before Dawn (September 2, 2010), both spy drama "Three Mountains". Is it underestimated?

From the poster to every scene in the play, the most impressive thing about Cliff is the cold and silence in the northeast. The blood of the soldiers in the heavy snow is pure and eye-catching, and the elegant and desolate atmosphere is the color throughout the whole play.

The script set the story in Harbin from 1938 to 1945. The male host Zhou Yi (Zhang Jiayi) was a local worker in communist party, lurking in the enemy’s interior, and served as the captain of the Special Operations Team of the Special Branch of the "Puppet Manchukuo" Harbin Police Department. In the eyes of enthusiastic students who didn’t know the truth, he was a "dog spy".

In order to cooperate with its latent mission, the organization sent a female telegraph operator Gu Qiuyan (Song Jia) trained in the Soviet Union to pretend to be his wife, and Zhou Yi’s real wife Sun Yuejian (Yongmei) was sent by the organization to become a new contact.

Facing Gao Bin (Cheng Yu), the ruthless and thoughtful head of the Secret Service Department, the life of a "fake couple" is like walking on the edge of a cliff every day, facing the risk of exposure at any time. After the test of life and death, their relationship is quietly changing and standing on the edge of an emotional cliff.

Zhou yi

Suits, hats and gloves, fur coats in winter and khaki trench coats in spring all year round, from the beginning of appearance, compared with the ground workers in other spy films, Zhou Yi is one of the "most accented".

This little leader of the secret service team usually likes to eat western food, loves to collect foreign wine, is proficient in Japanese and Russian, and eats bread with jam when meeting with underground organizations, and will carry out exquisiteness to the end.

Little-known is that Zhang Jiayi, who plays Zhou Yi, is also the artistic director of the play, and the shaping of his character temperament is his intention. "Zhou Yi in Cliff can be described as the most’ fan’ agent, who exudes romantic temperament, fur coat and hat, and reveals elegance and foreign flavor."

Commensurate with his elegant temperament, Zhou Yi is always calm and sober, and he firmly stands on the side of faith.

In order to stay hidden for longer and save more lives, he often needs to give up information and watch his comrades arrested and killed, but he also needs to be calm on the surface. He knows that if he exposes himself, he will cause more sacrifices.

Even if he played the enemy, Zhou Yi was the most merciful "bad guy". He always stuck to his bottom line, not only intercepted some information for the Kuomintang underground organization that was United against Japan at that time, but also was full of care for the small police who had no faith and just made a living. In the eyes of colleagues in the police department, he is the most humane and compassionate spy.

In front of his comrades-in-arms, he is a soldier of the Communist International. He has "no personal hatred, only the power of faith" in his heart. Even if he wants to interrogate his real wife Sun Yuejian, he tries to remain calm.

In the film, most of the time, Zhou Yi is alone with pressure. Lao Wei, the superior, is impulsive and simple-minded. He only wants to "kill others" when encountering any obstacles. Gu Qiuyan, the subordinate, is capricious and unreliable, and always drags his feet on his own.

Zhou Yi is always the coolest and smartest person of all.

However, he is also an ordinary person and has a fragile side. His guilt for his children, his responsibility for his wife and his complicated feelings for Gu Qiuyan are all his weaknesses.

The emotional states of Zhou Yi and Sun Yuejian are portrayed many times in the film. From Sun Yuejian’s loneliness of watching her husband and others go out in pairs, to Zhou Yi’s fear of getting close to his wife and children, and taking care of Gu Qiuyan’s mother and daughter with guilt, they overcame their inner struggles by faith in special times.

Zhou Yi and his real wife Sun Yuejian

The emotional contrast between Zhou Yi’s biological son Jia Qiao and Gu Qiuyan’s daughter Sasha is also the most worrying part in the film. On the one hand, Zhou Yi felt guilty when he found that Jia Qiao didn’t know himself, dressed badly and was bullied at school. On the other hand, Zhou Yi treats Sasha as his own, and Sasha is more like his own flesh and blood. This feeling is complicated and cruel for a father.

The most tear-jerking scene in the whole drama is the scene where Zhou Yi said goodbye to Sasha before he died. He gave up the opportunity to get away with his wife and children and chose to come back to fulfill his responsibility as Sasha’s father. At that moment, he took off his calm agent shell, just a father who wanted to save his daughter.

Gu Qiuyan

Contrary to the perfect and rational Zhou Yi, the heroine Gu Qiuyan is the most controversial character in the whole play.

She and Wang Cuiping in Latent are two extremes. The latter is an outspoken and careless guerrilla captain, while Gu Qiuyan is a "little bourgeois" who is full of romance and arrogance in her bones and returned from studying and working in the Soviet Union.

When she visited Zhou Yi, she even revealed the feminist consciousness that had not been fully exposed at that time:

But she and Cuiping also have something in common-immaturity. This kind of immaturity even became a kind of rashness in the early stage. Gu Qiuyan’s inexperience and disobedience not only angered Zhou Yi in the play, but also annoyed many viewers, and was questioned as not matching her trained professionals.

Sent to play other people’s wives, but forgot to put the ring on the ring finger; Go downstairs for breakfast, the nanny is still at home, spread the password book on the table and leave.

It is taboo to act without listening to the command in underground work, but the woman has crossed the thunder pool again and again. First, I didn’t listen to Zhou Yi’s orders, and I was worried that the troops on the mountain where my real husband was located could not receive the telegram. I sent the telegram twice without authorization, which was almost exposed.

Later, because he couldn’t get a reply from the mountain, he took the initiative to find her husband and brother Zhang Pingjun to deliver a letter. Zhang Pingjun and his girlfriend, who had no underground work experience, died directly.

Some viewers spit out: "If this is put aside, it will not survive two episodes in other spy films."

But on the other hand, it is people who have shortcomings, and Gu Qiuyan has not been "deified". At that time, she was pregnant soon, and the mental stress she suffered was very understandable. She didn’t want her child to be born without a father, and her impulsive behavior in order to save her husband was a more real reaction of a pregnant woman under high tension.

In the later period, Gu Qiuyan, who has been tested, grew up rapidly. She understood Zhou Yi’s difficulty and was respectful. She began to substitute herself for Zhou Yi’s wife. With a considerate side, she would take the initiative to help her husband bake insoles and sew his pants.

After Zhou Yi made a mistake, Gu Qiuyan was not afraid of danger, sent a telegram to the death, missed the best opportunity to escape, and then evaded the pursuit alone until she fell off the cliff. The power that a pregnant woman broke out in desperation was amazing.

Gu Qiuyan huddled in a crack in the rock, smoking to keep warm, and pulling a Grenade to prepare for sacrifice, which contributed to her best performance in overthrowing doubts in this play.

In order to cover up Zhou Yi, Gu Qiuyan, whose hands were not stained with blood, couldn’t calm down for a long time after shooting for the first time to eradicate hidden dangers. She hoped that her children could be a simple and happy person. "Let our generation bear all the sufferings, and when they arrive, there will be only happiness."

During the six-year trial of life and death, her feelings with Zhou Yi have also changed. As a woman, she respects Zhou Yi and is worried about Zhou Yi. She knows that others can’t understand that two people under the same roof are not husband and wife, but they share life and death and have long regarded each other as relatives.

As Zhou Yi and Gu Qiuyan said, their relationship and feelings will only exist in that special period. "Our feelings transcend love, blood, and ordinary people’s feelings."

They are always fake couples, each loyal to his real family. In Zhang Jiayi’s words, "there is no love between us".

Throughout the play, Song Jia’s performance made Gu Qiuyan stereoscopic, and her original voice lines also helped her win the "Best Actress" award at the 18th Shanghai TV Festival Magnolia Award in the same year, beating Sun Li (shortlisted by Empresses in the Palace), Jiang Wenli (Knocking on the Door with Happiness), Xi Meijuan (Longer Love for Children) and Liu Shishi (treading on thin ice).

sense of beauty

Compared with other spy war dramas, Cliff is relatively calm from beginning to end, with unhurried rhythm and gloomy tone rendering a depressing atmosphere, telling the history of the Anti-Japanese War during the "Puppet Manchukuo" period in Harbin.

The aesthetic feeling of TV series comes from the old Harbin style marked by Madiel Hotel. The actors’ clothes, Russian tableware, creaking wooden stairs and classic cars in the play reveal a kind of elegance and texture everywhere.

Cathedrals, foreigners and ancient trees on the streets, and slightly sloping street scenes have all become a portrayal of Harbin’s special features during the "Puppet Manchukuo" period.

Screenwriter YongXian Quan, a Korean, has lived in Heilongjiang for decades, studied the heavy history of the Puppet Manchuria and worked as a political and legal reporter for 10 years. Zhang Yimou’s first spy film "Above the Cliff" also chose him to write the script.

YongXian Quan said that there is such a line in Cliff, "When the songs and legends are silent, the building is still talking". Because of coming and going, many things are gone and people are gone, but the building is still there. The building represents too many things. Science, culture, art and humanities are all reflected in the building, and its aesthetics actually show the face of that era.

One detail in the TV series is impressive. In the scene where Zhang Pingjun went to see his brother, a pregnant woman was taken away on the train because she vomited rice during morning sickness.

YongXian Quan said that at that time, the "Puppet Manchukuo" promulgated the "wartime corn laws" (the "Rice Valley Management Law"), which stipulated the level of edible rice. At that time, Japanese people could eat rice, but it was illegal for China people to eat rice.

This kind of reduction, which is seen in the details, is a design that can convince people and stimulate people’s emotions most in modern history works.

YongXian Quan said frankly that, in his view, "spy war is just a form of expression, the essence of which is about people, the relationship between people and the feelings between people".

Therefore, in Cliff, although the logic of some plots is not perfect, the emotional lines of the main characters are touching.

The ending failed?

The advantages of Cliff are obvious, as are the disadvantages. The tragic ending of Zhou Yi, the hero, who finally died under three guns, became the most criticized design of the whole play.

Some viewers think that Zhou Yi’s choice is hard to justify. A person who was always rational in the early stage, his wife was arrested and his comrade was killed quietly, but he fell into the trap for the sake of "fake wife and daughter". This sudden irrational behavior seems far-fetched, which makes the characters seem inconsistent.

However, some people think that such an ending is not a failure, but a father’s instinct, which is a manifestation of affection and righteousness.

According to director Liu Jin, two versions of the ending were prepared at the time of filming. The first round was a sad ending, while the 36-episode version broadcast by CCTV in the second round will be specially edited to make a warm ending, and Zhou Yi’s final fate will change.

But YongXian Quan, the screenwriter, denied this statement. Because of his dissatisfaction with the ending, he publicly wrote articles to attack the crew and producers, bluntly saying, "Zhou Yi died too cowardly and worthless. Obviously, he is a great hero who stands tall and makes the gods cry, but he lowers his social status for no reason and becomes a cheap sensation of’ I will die for you, don’t believe you don’t hurt me’.

Screenshot of YongXian Quan’s blog "Cliff: A Regretful Ending"

YongXian Quan complained that he had communicated with the director and the filmmaker many times during the filming, and emphasized that the play should have proper limit, "Abuse for the sake of abuse, be cruel for the sake of cruelty, and be miserable for misery. These are all very low-level and dirty things. It is necessary to communicate with the audience as a friend with profound understanding and aesthetic insight. "

In order not to let Zhou Yi die hastily, YongXian Quan said that he tried to save it many times, hoping that the broadcast version would delete the gunshots and the scene of Zhou Yi falling to the ground, but the other party repeatedly broke his word, and even the ending of the CCTV version did not change. As he said, among the endings circulating on the Internet so far, only Zhou Yi was shot dead by random guns.

There are different opinions on the fate of the characters, which can also be seen in the interview of director Liu Jin. Liu Jin once admitted that he loved the full version of 40 episodes more, and the ending of Zhou Yi’s death under the gun was the "climax of the whole drama", which was even more shocking.

"Many viewers don’t understand why he left his wife and children behind. This play is not so straightforward in emotional expression. I hope everyone will have a good taste again. It is this choice that has sublimated the personality charm of’ Zhou Yi’! " Liu Jin lamented.

This kind of "tragic beauty" that sublimates Zhou Yi’s personality has won the support of some scholars, although it makes many viewers feel like they are in the throat and their emotions cannot be vented.

Zeng Qingrui, a professor at China Communication University, thinks that if the ending is revised, it will take care of the audience’s aesthetic expectation of happy reunion, but it will lose the original tragic beauty of the play. Yan Jingming, then editor-in-chief of Wenyi Bao, also appreciated the "suppressed version" ending. In his view, if Zhou Yi didn’t die, the drama wouldn’t have made much breakthrough in tragic, dramatic and imaginative space.

In addition to disappointment with the ending, the plot procrastination is also the most feedback from the audience when it is broadcast. Some viewers said that the rhythm of the 40 episodes was too slow. For example, Gu Qiuyan’s plot in a Russian restaurant was close to the target, so there was no need to shoot two episodes. Although CCTV cut it into 36 episodes in the second broadcast, it was still not concise enough, and 30 episodes was enough.

However, despite the regret of the last episode and the repetition of the side lines, Cliff is still a good drama, and its dispute with the "best spy war drama" in Hidden is still floating in the barrage.

Nowadays, after the release of the prequel film "Above the Cliff", many viewers have found out the drama version for aftertaste. After nine years of the first broadcast, CCTV replayed it several times. It seems that some people are willing to tell the real good story continuously.

Over the past century, how many thrilling stories like Cliff are still waiting to be told.