I didn’t expect to watch the best film for me in 2020 just a few days before this year ends. The movie is entitled “Your Name Engraved Herein”. I decided to watch the first half before I slept today and continued the next half before my work shift started. And it sucked all of my energy. I actually forced myself to finish an episode of a K-drama that I’m currently watching to make my heart feel lighter. But I thought writing would give more comfort and what I felt after watching the movie is something that I want to document here in my blog.
I would interpret the story based on my own thoughts and feelings so feel free to have different views. The story is about two guys falling in love with each other during a time when same-sex relationships aren’t talked about. Just imagining that thought would trigger unfavorable reactions from almost anyone in Taiwan. So, the actions of Birdy seem reasonable. If I were to live in their time, I would probably be so afraid and would think that there’s something wrong with me because I like men. That’s why I admired Jia Han. Who wouldn’t relate to the points he raised especially now that we are living a relatively more comfortable life for LGBTQ+ community? I know we have a long way to go but what we have right now is so much better than before.
Here are some of Jia Han’s lines that made a mark to me (They aren’t the direct translations as I just based them on my memory):
What is difference between the love of a man to a woman and a man to another man?
I want to go to hell because you say all homosexuals go to hell, maybe there many would understand me.
That’s right. Why is there a question of validity when it comes to same-sex love? I honestly don’t see anything wrong unless you present to me verses from a holy book. Which I would not argue because we have different beliefs. Why do we need to go through phases like hiding it first from people, hiding it from our families, seeking approval from others, and coming out? Why can’t we have a world where we view love in its rawest form?
The second line struck me deeply. I struggle to find words on how I felt after hearing that line. That is something that can be said only by a person who goes through so much pain. Imagine not wanting to live here and not wanting to go to heaven because neither of the two understands you. The place where everyone wishes to avoid seems to be the place you would find comfort.
(Spoiler alert) As you may predict, their love did not flourish. Birdy did not want continue what they have because he thought that they will surely end up in trouble. After their lovely day at the beach, they did not see each other again after more than 30 years. There was this one scene when Jia Han called Birdy and asked how he was (those who watched the film can easily point this tearjerker telephone scene). And then he made him listen to a song which he told Birdy that it was written by one his seniors (this was a lie, Jia Han made it). That was a painful scene. The lyrics will hit your heart. No lines needed from the actors. Just their tears and the music will make you feel many things. Please see the YouTube video below. Make sure to watch the movie first then watch the video. You’ll understand me.
Their lives went on. Birdy married Banban and they had a child. But they got a divorce. Jia Han knew this after coming to one of their reunions. And there was this one line from Banban that broke my heart (the whole movie broke my heart so expect me to say this more than once) – “If I had known [that homosexuality was innate] I wouldn’t have tried so hard. It has ruined my life, and his.” See, this is why we are living a luckier life now. I may not know Birdy’s rationale but he seemed to force himself to live a perceived normal life. It saved him from society’s judgments but he was not able to save himself. He hurt three people – himself, Banban and Jia Han.
The last part of the movie showed the older versions of Birdy and Jia Han. They met at a coffee shop in Canada when Jia Han visited Father Oliver’s grave who died in 2020. This priest played a huge role in Jia Han’s life when he was in school. He goes to him when he feels confused. But little did we know that even Father Oliver was also not straight and that he advised Jia Han to have a straight life because he doesn’t want him to suffer like he did. After meeting each other after thirty years, finally Birdy explicitly admitted that he loved Jia Han. During the course of the movie, Jia Han was the more vocal one. He was more fearless in expressing what he feels. It’s too late but I’m glad that it happened. The movie ended with them walking together. They also discussed how they can freely say who they are in this time compared to their younger years. It was an open ended film which I would like to assume that they will give their love another try.
The ending credits is a must watch. That is where you will see Birdy’s love for Jia Han and how he expressed it in ways that are equally powerful as words of affirmation. Throughout the movie, you will most likely see Jia Han’s perspective and how he treasured Birdy. The last five minutes showed Birdy’s younger self showing how he truly cared for Jia Han and I’m fully convinced that they are each other’s love of their lives. But I read in one the reviews that there were a lot of hidden messages in the film which I agreed. Those two guys showed love in different ways but one does not make the other less meaningful.
If I will immerse myself fully to the story, I would say that the moments they shared together were so precious. Yes, we are luckier at this time as they did not have smartphones. The technology wasn’t advanced back then. Now, we can use video calls and communicate easier through social media. What they had before were moments when they were physically together. And not to mention, they need to stay away from the public eye and love each other in secret. As much as I want to understand Birdy, I feel so much for Jia Han. How did he survive all those years? Not seeing your true and great love because what others will think and feel seemed to be more important. That was one heck of a painful blow. But who am I to blame them? They lived a different time.
Closing this by sharing with you one realization that you have already read in this post – I consider myself lucky being born at this time. I suddenly felt extremely thankful for the freedom that I have. I hope we won’t live backwards and be more inclusive as a society. May we see love as a right of everyone and may we all have the courage to let every person feel free to love whoever they want.
I am now going back to Netflix and move to a new world. I experienced so much pain in their story and I just need another movie/series from those two main characters. But please, have a happy ending and explore the rom-com genre – just to make us feel better.