A Story About School Bullying – Better Days

It’s a story about school bullying. This kind of topic is barely filmed in mainland China as it is super sensitive, but this movie has achieved much success. In the movie, the youth is not as bright and innocent as it is portrayed in many works of literature. Rather, the movie shows audiences how tragic youth could end up without proper guidance and protection. It’s not a typical story about how two teenagers suffered at first and eventually found success. Instead, the two main characters in the story are nothing exceptional nor strong nor intelligent. They are more like those teenagers we often encounter in our real lives- those who consider themselves already grown up but actually are just kids who lack care and protection. The adults in the movie repeatedly tell kids to “trust adults”. But as I watched the movie, I started to come up with a question: how should we make kids trust us?

It’s a depressing movie, made even sadder because the movie was made so realistically. But fortunately, the movie didn’t end up as a total tragedy. The kid eventually got help from an officer and avoided making decisions that could ruin their entire lives. During the production stage of the movie, the production team struggled with whether they should go with a more comforting albeit unrealistic ending to the movie. I’m grateful that they did so because it would have been heartbreaking to see the teenagers living in such a hopeless world even in a movie.

In the producer’s words:

“把我们相信的结局拍出来,不单单是在给大家温暖,而是我跟导演有点不服输,觉得世界应该是这样的,这是我们的态度。”

“We filmed the ending that we believe in, not only because we wanted to deliver warmth, but me and the director are the kind of people who don’t give up. We believe this is how the world should be, it’s our attitude.”

chénniàn shì yígè zhèngzài zhǔnbèi
    陈念      是  一个    正在      准备 
gāokǎo de gāosān xuésheng.
  高考    的   高三      学生 。 
tā méiyǒu bàba,  māma jīngcháng búzàijiā.
她    没有   爸爸 , 妈妈       经常      不在家 。

Chen Nian is a twelfth grade student

who is preparing for the Gaokao (National College Entrance Examination).

She doesn’t have a father, and her mom is often not at home.

yìtiān, chénniàn de yígè  nǚtóngxué
一天 ,  陈 念     的 一个     女同学
zài xuéxiào zìshā le.
在     学校    自杀 了 。
háizimen wéizhe shītǐ pāizhào, hùxiāng fāduǎnxìn.
孩子们    围着  尸体     拍照 ,  互相      发短信 。
chénniàn tóngqíng tā de péngyou,
陈念           同情    她 的    朋友 ,
jiù bǎ tā de yīfu  gài zài le shītǐshàng.
就  把 她 的 衣服 盖  在 了   尸体 上 。

One day, one of Chen Nian’s classmates

committed suicide at school.

Kids surrounded the body, taking pictures and texting each other.

Chen Nian had sympathy for her friend,

so she covered her body with her clothes.

cóng nàyǐhòu, wèilái hé biéde liǎnggè nǚhái
   从  那以后 , 魏莱   和 别的     两个    女孩 
jiù kāishǐ bàlíng chénniàn.
就   开始    霸凌     陈念 。 
yuánlái, nàge zìshā de nǚhái
原来 ,    那个 自杀 的 女孩 
yìzhí bèi wèilái tāmen bàlíng,
一直  被  魏莱      她们  霸凌 , 
zuìhòu tā juédìng líkāi zhège shìjiè.
    最后 她    决定    离开 这个 世界 。 
chénniàn gàosule lǎoshī hé jǐngchá,
    陈念       告诉了   老师 和    警察 , 
kěshì wèilái hé tā de péngyoumen
  可是 魏莱   和 她 的      朋友们 
zhǐshì bùnéng shàngxuéle.
  只是     不能         上学了 。

From then on, Wei Lai and two other girls

started to bully Chen Nian.

It turned out that the girl who committed suicide

had been continuously bullied by Wei Lai and her friends,

and eventually she decided to leave this world.

Chen Nian told the teacher and police about this.

But Wei Lai and her friends

were only banned from going to school.

yìtiān, chén niàn zài huíjiā de lùshang,
一天 , 陈 念 在 回家 的 路上 , 
kànjiàn sāngèrén zhèngzài dǎ yīgè nánhái.
  看见       三个人        正在   打 一个 男孩 。 
chénniàn xiǎng bàojǐng, dànshì bèi nàxiērén zhuāzhù le,
     陈念         想     报警 , 但是     被   那些人        抓住 了 , 
hái bèi tāmen bī dé gēn áidǎ de nánhái qīnwěn.
还   被    他们  逼 得 跟   挨打 的      男孩 亲吻 。 
nàge nánhái jiào xiǎoběi. nàtiān yǐhòu,
 那个   男孩    叫    小北 。   那天   以后 , 
xiǎ běi qù chénniàn de xuéxiào zhǎotā,
   小北  去        陈念   的      学校    找她 , 
xiǎng xièxie tā nàtiān bāngmáng.
    想    谢谢  她    那天    帮忙 。 
dànshì chénniàn zhǐxiǎng hǎohǎo zhǔnbèi gāokǎo,
  但是      陈念          只想        好好        准备    高考 , 
bùxiǎng jiāopéngyou.
   不想       交朋友 。

One day, Chen Nian was on her way back home

when she saw three people beating up a boy.

Chen Nian wanted to call the police, but she was captured by those people,

and was forced to kiss the boy who was beaten.

The boy is called Xiao Bei. After that day,

Xiao Bei went to Chen Nian’s school looking for her,

He wanted to thank her for helping.

But Chen Nian only wanted to prepare for the Gaokao well,

she didn’t want to make any friends.

dànshì yǒuyìtiān chénniàn fàngxué huíjiā,
  但是      有 一天 ,    陈念       放学     回家 , 
kànjiàn wèilái hé biéde liǎnggè nǚhái
   看见     魏莱  和   别的    两个    女孩 
zài tā jiāménqián děngtā.
在  她    家门前         等她 。 
chénniàn méiyǒubànfǎ, zhǐnéng qù zhǎo xiǎoběi,
      陈念          没有办法 ,   只能   去   找     小北 , 
ràng xiǎoběi bǎohù tā.
   让      小北    保护 她 。 
xiǎoběi yěshì yígè méiyǒu bàmā de háizi.
    小北  也是  一个    没有    爸妈  的 孩子 。 
zhè liǎnggè háizi jiù kāishǐ zhùzài le yīqǐ.
 这     两个    孩子 就   开始    住在 了 一起 。

But one day, when Chen Nian was going home after school,

she found Wei Lai and the other girls

were in front of her house waiting for her.

Chen Nian had no other option than to go look for Xiao Bei,

and seek protection from him.

Xiao Bei is also a kid with no parents.

So the two kids started to live together.

chénniàn shàngxué hé huíjiā de lùshang
   陈念           上学       和  回家  的    路上 
xiǎoběi jiù zǒuzài tāde hòumiàn bǎohù tā.
    小北  就   走在  她的        后面     保护 她 。 
xiǎoběi bèi rén dǎ le,
    小北   被   人  打 了 , 
chénniàn wèn: téngma? xiǎoběi shuō:
      陈念     问 : 疼 吗 ?     小北    说 : 
nǐshì  dìyīgè  wèn wǒ téngbùténg derén.
你是  第 一个  问   我       疼不疼      的人 。 
cóngcǐ, chénniàn yǒurén bǎohù tā le,
从此 ,      陈念       有人     保护 她 了 , 
xiǎoběi yě yǒurén ānwèi tāle.
   小北   也   有人     安慰 他了 。 
liǎnggè háizi yìqǐ qù xuéxiào, yīqǐ huíjiā,
   两个   孩子 一起 去  学校 , 一起 回家 , 
yīqǐ shuōshuōxiàoxiào.
一起      说说笑笑 。 

When Chen Nian was on her way to school,

Xiao Bei would walk behind her and protect her.

When Xiao Bei was beaten by others,

Chen Nian would ask: does it hurt? Xiao Bei said:

You are the first person asking me if it hurts.

From that day on, Chen Nian had someone to protect her,

and Xiao Bei had someone to comfort him.

The two kids would go to school together, and back home together,

talk and laugh together.

kěshì, méi guò duōjiǔ,
可是 , 没 过 多久 , 
wèi lái tāmen yòu lái zhǎo chén niàn le.
魏 莱 他们 又 来 找 陈 念 了 。 
nàtiān chén niàn yòu zhǎobudào xiǎo běi.
那天 陈 念 又 找不到 小 北 。 
wèi lái tāmen bǎ chén niàn dàidào
魏 莱 她们 把 陈 念 带到 
yīgè méi rén de dìfāng,
一个 没 人 的 地方 , 
yībiān dǎ tā, yībiān pāi shìpín,
一边 打 她 , 一边 拍 视频 , 
hái bǎ tā de tóufa jiǎndiào le.
还 把 她 的 头发 剪掉 了 。 
xiǎo běi huíjiā kàndào chén niàn
小 北 回家 看到 陈 念 
yòu shēngqì, yòu nánguò,
又 生气 , 又 难过 , 
kěshì tāmen néng zěnmebàn ne?
可是 他们 能 怎么办 呢 ? 
tāmen zhǐnéng yīqǐ kūqì.
他们 只能 一起 哭泣 。 
xiǎo běi wèile ānwèi chén niàn,
小 北 为了 安慰 陈 念 , 
bǎ zìjǐ de tóufa yě jiǎndiào le.
把 自己 的 头发 也 剪掉 了 。

But not too long after,

Wei Lai and her group came for Chen Nian again.

And that day Chen Nian couldn’t find Xiao Bei.

Wei Lai’s group took Chen Nian

to a place with no people,

beat her up, took videos,

and also cut off her hair.

When Xiao Bei came back home and found her,

he was angry and heartbroken.

But what could they do?

They could only weep together.

To comfort Chen Nian,

Xiao Bei cut off his own hair.

chénniàn zhǐxiǎng shàngdàxué, líkāi zhège chéngshì,
    陈念          只想         上大学 ,  离开   这个   城市 , 
jiù gèng nǔlì xuéxíle.
就   更    努力 学习了 。 
kěshì jǐtiānhòu, yǒuyígè jǐngchá lái zhǎotā, shuō:
可是 几天后 ,    有一个    警察   来    找她 , 说 : 
wèilái sǐ le,    xūyào chénniàn qù jǐngchájú.
魏莱  死 了 , 需要      陈念     去    警察局 。 
jǐngchá huáiyí chénniàn shāle wèilái,
   警察     怀疑       陈念      杀了  魏莱 , 
dànshì tāmen méiyǒu zhèngjù.
   但是    他们       没有    证据 。 
nàtiān chénniàn háishi huíjiā le,
  那天      陈念        还是    回家 了 ,
zhǐshì nàtiān yǐhòu
  只是   那天   以后 
měitiān dōuyǒu jǐngchá gēnzhetā.
    每天       都有      警察     跟着她 。 
xiǎoběi wèile bǎohù chénniàn
  小北     为了    保护     陈念
jiù jiǎzhuāng shì zìjǐ shāle wèilái.
就         假装   是  自己 杀了 魏莱 。 
xiǎoběi bèi jǐngchámen dàizǒule,
  小北     被      警察们         带走了 , 
chénniàn jìxù qù gāokǎole.
      陈念   继续 去     高考了 。 
kěshì xiǎoběi yīnggāi zěnmebàn?
  可是     小北     应该       怎么办 ?

The only thing that Chen Nian wanted is to go to college and leave this city,

so she studied harder.

But a few days later, a police officer came and said:

“Wei Lai has died, we need Chen Nian to go to the police station.”

The police suspected Chen Nian killed Wei Lai,

but they had no evidence.

Chen NIan still went home that day,

but since that day,

there are always police following her.

Xiao Bei wanted to protect Chen Nian,

so he pretended that he killed Wei Lai.

Xiao Bei was taken by police,

Chen Nian was able to attend Gao Kao.

But what should Xiao Bei do?

Go check out the ending from the actual movie. This movie worth your time.

 

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Chinese Book Club – Movie Review: Better Days

Saturday, Sep 26, 2020, 7:00 PM

Online event
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13 Chinese lover Went

Let’s get to know a Chinese movie about school bullying. This kind of topic is rarely filmed in mainland China as it is very sensitive. The story is not about some bullied kids that are brave enough to make their way to a successful life. On the contrary, the movie was made so realistically that you feel each character in the movie is the person th…

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