Happy Time

Happy Times, directed by Zhang Yimou, 2000, China

Old Zhao 老赵, a factory worker in his late 50s forced to step down from his post during China’s reform and transformation from a state planned economy to a free market economy; single, broke, and ready to settle for anyone in his search of a marriage partner; stuck with a blind girl whose step mother sees her as a burden and wants to get rid of her; develops real paternal feelings for the girl and puts her up in his own apartment as his romance with the step mother turns sour; well liked by his co-workers who act like his real family till the day he dies after he is hit by a truck;

Fat Woman, a divorcee in her later 40s, with two children from her two previous marriages, and treats one much better than the other; takes advantage of Zhao’s affection for her and asks him to find a job for her step daughter so that she can move out; dates other men while Zhao is doing his best to find work for her daughter; breaks up with Zhao because he is “pretentious and dishonest”

Blind Girl (吴颖 Wu Ying), fat woman’s step daughter; biological mother dies when she is 3 and becomes blind due to a brain tumor; 18 years old and ill treated by her step mother; witnesses how her father and step mother fight everyday until he moves out; has some training as a masseuse, a profession for the blind in China; deeply appreciates what Zhao has done for her which her real father has not been able to do, but leaves in the end so as not to be a burden to him; hopes against hope that some day she’ll find her real father and regain eye sight

Xiao Fu,fellow worker of Zhao but younger, married and still employed; respects Zhao as a dear friend even though he has not paid him the debt he owes; comes up with an elaborated plan to “find a job” for the blind girl to help Zhao even when Zhao himself is jobless; believes that his plan would work because Zhao has a natural propensity to brag and the blind girl cannot see and would have to believe what he says to her


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