Becoming the Protagonist at the End of Life: The Wish of an Old Lady Before Death

One month before the end of the school year, everyone in the class received a letter, all handwritten and mailed to the department in an envelope, from an old lady.
  The old lady is an American citizen of Chinese descent, surnamed Liu. I wanted to throw the letter away, but when I saw the photo of the old lady attached to the letter, I couldn’t help but take a second look.
  In the photo is an old lady with a Chinese face, wearing ordinary clothes, sitting in the background of daily life, not at all like the photos used by actors, and there is no sense of drama at all.
  This photo makes me feel a little bit intimate. I read the letter. The old lady’s letter said that she wanted to act and had thought about it all her life, but she never had the chance.
  She married a manly Chinese man and gave birth to five children. After she raised the children, her husband had a stroke again, and she continued to take care of her husband with her life until his death. She finally breathed a sigh of relief , but at the same time found that her life was coming to an end, she was told by the doctor that she had cancer. Two of her five children are willing to take care of her. But her children can’t understand her mother’s last wish-the old lady wants to pay for herself and make a movie starring her alone.
  I originally thought it would be too cruel to completely ignore the last wish of such an old lady. But the school year is coming to an end, and I am so busy with my homework that I forget it after a while.
  Until one day, a group of scenes in our class was filmed in the UCLA hospital, and I was the microphone operator. We were lighting up the hallway, and no one noticed that there was an elderly lady in a wheelchair hiding behind a bunch of lampposts, watching us rehearse the camera positions over and over again. The lighting engineer has been nitpicking about fixing the lighting, which made us a little impatient, but the old lady still watched it engrossed.
  I gradually noticed this old lady and felt a little familiar. After thinking about it for a long time, I remembered that it was the Chinese old lady who sent the letter to our class. I put down the microphone and went forward to introduce myself to the old lady. Unexpectedly, although she grew up in the United States, she could speak very clear Chinese.
  ”Hey, I also know that if I send a letter to you, I probably won’t get a response.” She said, “You all take the film seriously, how could it be possible to use an old lady like me who has never acted before as the protagonist. ”
  I didn’t know how to answer after hearing this, so I had to ask about her physical condition.
  ”Alas…” She sighed again: “The doctor said that I might not be able to make a sound in my throat next month, so what I have said in my life is considered finished.” I wanted to comfort her, but the director ordered to start filming. The audience got busy, and I hurried over to operate the microphone. When I thought of Mrs. Liu again, she had already been pushed away by someone who even took her wheelchair away.
  I thought of her saying that she had about a month left to speak. I figured it out, she lives in the hospital on the South Campus, and we are near the North Campus, so the so-called starring her in a short film is nothing more than us students sending out a photography class to take pictures, record audio, edit and work. Let’s share it with everyone, and we don’t need to pay for it. It’s so convenient that we don’t make a move. It doesn’t make sense.
  I pulled Lisa and Mai to lock the door, and went to the hospital to find this old lady Liu and chat.
  We found Mrs. Liu’s ward. She was looking at some old yellowed photos in a daze. When she saw us, she was very excited and pulled us to sit by the bed and chat.
  I asked Mrs. Liu: “If we really make a movie starring you, but after it is finished, we may not have the chance to show it to many people. Is that okay?” Mrs. Liu was taken aback, and then said:
  ” I never thought of showing it to others…”
  ”Then why are you filming it? Just use your imagination.” Mai Suomen said.
  Mrs. Liu was stunned again, this time for a longer time.
  ”When I was a young girl, when I saw the heroine in a movie who was in love, I really wanted to go into the movie and have a love like that. As a result, life…is really different from the movie. Maybe life is too long. There are too many things to care about, it’s not as short as a movie, you can ignore everything…” Mrs. Liu took a breath and continued: “Now, I… I am dying, I have never been the protagonist, and I have never been a protagonist in my life. It’s all so…it doesn’t matter. I want to try it out, what it’s like to be the protagonist…”
  ”Do you want to act out your own story?” I asked.
  ”No, don’t. My life is not my story at all. I don’t like it at all, so I don’t want to act out my life again.” Granny Liu said.
  ”So, what should we shoot?” The three of us glanced at each other, and looked at Mrs. Liu on the hospital bed together. Mrs. Liu smiled strangely, as if she had begun to feel the joy of being watched as the protagonist.
  I recruited a few classmates, and from the old movies, I selected five love scenes that were relatively easy to reproduce, and each of us was responsible for filming one. Seeing this, Mrs. Liu was so happy that she seemed to be 40 or 50 years younger.
  Each “reproduction scene” is very short. When it really starts, it can be filmed in one go. Mrs. Liu is neither on camera nor has any acting skills at all. Playing these soul-stirring love scenes with handsome male actors is a natural thing to do. Very abrupt. However, the whole matter had a serious atmosphere, and, through the camera, Mrs. Liu’s decrepit and sickly appearance exuded a frightening power. Those affectionate dialogues are sometimes said by Mrs. Liu angrily, which really brings out the lingering “death” smell of spring silkworms until they die.
  To be honest, the compilation film with Mrs. Liu as the protagonist is a bit different. However, when Duomaojun showed us the picture of him following him from the beginning to the end, from the ward to the set, from a sick face to heavy makeup, we were all stunned. The shadow of death seems to be the most flavorful seasoning material, lining the whole thing up with a heavy and deep black velvet curtain. All the weirdness seems to be justified. Mrs. Liu, who was sick and tired, put on makeup, took medicine, and fell asleep at the scene, but couldn’t help but desperately wanted to wake up and talk about her love for old movies. We decided to interleave and edit all these real clips and the five love scenes starring Mrs. Liu shot in the studio, and cut them into a 30-minute film.
  By the time we finished editing, Mrs. Liu was not only unable to speak, she was also unable to get out of the hospital bed. We carried a small projector and went to the ward to project the rough cut version on the white wall of the ward.
  The old projector was spinning loudly, and the close-up of Mrs. Liu bloomed on the entire white wall. Mrs. Liu, who was lying on the pillow, laughed, and then shed tears.
  After this screening, more than a week later, Mrs. Liu died.
  We didn’t help this film with fine-tuning, and we didn’t make any more music or credits. For us, the film is done. After the screening was shown to Mrs. Liu alone, it was completed. Movies seem to be the ocean of youth.
  There are crazy students like us who pour all the luxury of youth into this ocean. There are also people like Mrs. Liu who want to take back a spoonful of youth from this ocean to quench their thirst at the end, but it is a pity that sea water is not drinkable.

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