Even if the petals fall to the ground, the fragrance remains forever. The documentary "The Flavor of History" evokes the traces of time with fragrance, recreates important points in history, and experiences the turbulent choices of the ancients, with cinematic images and quality copywriting, which is fascinating and heart-warming.
1 The Fragrance Deep in the Memory
"Memories evoked by the sense of smell are always profound." This quote is perfect for the story of Yang Guifei and Tang Emperor Xuanzong.
Yang Guifei was left there forever after the Mawei Inn incident, and soon afterward, Li Longji, Emperor Xuanzong, retired to the second line and became the retired emperor. And Yang Guifei's favorite fragrance, Rui Long Nao Xiang (瑞龙脑香, borneol fragrant), became a deliberate aroma that Li Longji avoided.
But the former palace musician He Huai Zhi deliberately offered the hat stained with Yang Guifei's fragrance, opening the memory of Yang Guifei.
The aroma on this hat, is from a late afternoon. Li Longji is in the game, Yang Guifei sitting aside to watch, and He Huai Zhi playing the lute. When Li Longji was about to lose the game, Yang Guifei put down the puppy in her arms, disrupting the game and solving Li Longji's embarrassment. When a breeze passed by, it blew Yang Guifei's sleeve and brushed the brim of He Huaizhi's hat, which led to this gift to Li Longji.
In documentary "The Flavor of History", history is not a frozen text, not a rigid past, it is those living people, living things. On top of that, "The flavor of history" differs from traditional documentaries. For better understanding, the director will appear at critical moments, make incense, or integrate into the story, to explain to us the reason behind the story.
2 The Fragrance Is a Kind of Faith
Shen Yongpeng, the director of this documentary, believes that fragrance is a direct human experience and has become a spiritual totem in Chinese civilization. With this inspiration, the crew discovered five ancient incense with unique Chinese characteristics, and corresponding to historical figures such as Yang Guifei, Su Shi, and Huang Tingjian.
For example, the story of the second episode carries the plum fragrance of Li Qingzhao's faith.
In the second year of Shaoxing in the Southern Song Dynasty, Li Qingzhao was involved in a lawsuit in Lin'an in which she lost both cases, and the defendant was her second husband, Zhang Ruzhou. This is also considered to be the two major vicissitudes that Li Qingzhao encountered in her life: one was remarriage and the other was denunciation.
Since the death of her ex-husband, Zhao Mingcheng, no one treats her equally anymore. But in the eyes of Zhang Ruzhou, she found a long-lost feeling. Only after her marriage, Li Qingzhao realized that this man was not a good match. When Zhang Ruzhou belittled Li Qingzhao's preferences and tried to get her to change, Li Qingzhao saw the marriage for what it was. In the following period, despite Li Qingzhao was intertwined with strife and cold war, her production of plum fragrance still did not stop.
Accompanied by plum fragrance, Li Qingzhao's faith did not collapse. She finally made up her mind to denounce Zhang Ruzhou, but in the Song Dynasty, a wife suing her husband would have to spend two years in jail herself. This farce-like marriage and divorce, for Li Qingzhao, like her beloved plum fragrance, was an obsession from within: the equal pursuit of happiness.
Performing the moving story led by the making of incense, while telling the social environment and historical background of the time, makes the storyline of each episode vivid and full.
The fourth episode tells the story of Huang Tingjian and the scholar Fan Xinzhong. Fan Xinzhong was disliked by the government to seize the civilian's property, accidentally injuring the official, Fan was convicted and his wife was implicated and killed, and he has since become a killer.
However, Fan hoped that Huang Tingjian could prepare soul return incense for him so that he could see his wife again. To spread the right idea by incense is exactly the belief of Huang Tingjian, and Fan's request is not in line. But Huang Tingjian wanted to change Fan through the process of making incense.
Fishy conch can make incense, and in the same way, bad people can become good. Fan Xinzhong was enlightened in the process of making incense and eventually turned to the right path. Faith is like an oasis in the heart, the existence of it can make people happy, even if it gives rise to obsession, even if misunderstood by the world, but also to enrich the heart.
3 A Blend of Character and Fragrance
These varieties of incense making are now difficult to smell. But the concentration of emotions it carries can travel through time and deeply move us thousands of years later.
In the third episode, Wang Anshi and Su Shi, the rivals in the imperial court, have a very enjoyable conversation.
Wang Anshi lit the agarwood incense and said, "The flavor of incense is really good, not biased, a veritable way of Zhongyong."
But Su Shi was ashamed and said, "I am too far from the way of incense because of my radical behavior."
In fact, Su Shi's life is very similar to the agarwood incense. Agarwood incense is the scarred oil of the agarwood tree after the tree has been injured and the tree heals itself; as time passes, the incense becomes harder. So the source of agarwood incense is an ordeal. And so is the life of Su Shi. Talented but repeatedly encountered devaluation, experienced in the suffering, and left numerous classic works to be remembered by the world.
The incense of Rui Long Nao Xiang is also closely related to the life of Yang Guifei. In the hot Po Li country (Brunei), there is a big tree that nurtures the ice-like borneol fragrance, but this incense needs to be smoked to restore the fragrance. This hot and cold contradiction, just like the encounter of Yang Guifei, in the depths of prosperity, experiences the coldness of humanity.
The plum fragrance carries a kind of strength, just like Li Qingzhao, who could have let others sue Zhang Ruzhou to save herself from jail, but she was unwilling succumb to secularity.
Perhaps each kind of fragrance has a life force. Love is an attitude of life, and different attitudes make different lives.