If you want to talk about a perfect hero, then Xin, Qi-ji, is one of those, someone capable of writing in a complete spectrum of poetic and lyrical themes and fighting the fiercest battles in a great variety of missions. At least 626 of his Song contractual lyrics have been preserved to this day, not to mention that he was known as one of the best poets throughout the entire dynasty of Song, leading a school of poem of his own. In the battlefield, one of his prominent missions was to capture an enemy top commander alive with merely 50 riders against an army of 50,000 soldiers. Nothing was impossible with Xin. So, what about his love life? Well, there was no record or whatsoever. He had neither a wife nor children. It’s just a blank space. Now what? How are we supposed to make a movie about a legend like Xin? Well, we have to figure out why he didn’t have a wife.
Most Chinese military leaders had their families. In fact, it was rather easy for them to get married. They were fairly well remunerated. They were tall and handsome, capable of the most powerful and sophisticated fighting skills. Plus, some of them were the most brilliant poets of their times. It’s just impossible to imagine why Xin didn’t have a family. Plus, he wrote many, many love songs. Was he writing only out of his imagination? Probably not. In fact, he may have experienced a long series of breakups just like Taylor Swift, given the overall hidden sadness in his poetry lyrics. Okay, I don’t know much about Swift’s private life, but it’s common in Chinese fictions that a guy falls in love with a woman but she marries someone else, ending up with a heartbreak so deep that he decides to not marry ever for the rest of his life, such as Pang, Yong, in Painted Skin (2008) who almost did just that. However, you have to remember that in Chinese fictions writers tend to favor happy endings because fictions are mostly written for the sake of entertainment. It is possible that Xin grew up with a Jurchen girl in his neighborhood and fell so in love with her that he could never easily be truly in love with another woman again. The abrupt separation with her caused by his joining Southern Song later in his twenties could have been a powerful love story, on top of the possibility that he had been hiding for years his love for her from his grandfather, who had been telling him to be a true Han Chinese and couldn’t possibly accept that Xin may have been in love with a young girl of their enemy’s ethnicity. It’s just a theory, but it’s compatible with known history, given how little trust was given him in the political circle of Southern Song, even after 20 years of service. It is possible that he sneaked back to the northern land way too often, though never caught. If you are a fiction writer, you probably can come up with an even more powerful love story. However, I’d rather stick to something more realistic based on the way he handled certain difficult situations, such as his grandfather’s stay in the north.
Common interest was usually the most powerful glue of love for Chinese couples in his time and many other eras. Xin, Qi-ji, was born on May 28, 1140, but Li, Qing-zhao, possibly the most brilliant and natural Chinese poet, was born in 1084 and passed away around year 1155. They couldn’t have met. However, someone like Li, if close enough to Xin’s age, could have been a game changer for his love life. Unfortunately, there were not too many women like Li in Chinese history. If you really love highly modified trues stories, you might want to arrange someone like her for him in your fiction. That will definitely make a happy ending.
Something like that might work for the best Chinese movie before year 2020. What do you think? Honestly, I am tired of Painted Skin and its sequels. Let’s simply forget those fictions. On top of that, we also have many Tang warriors and poets to write about, who were in good fellowship in their times, just in case you worry about how to translate Song contractual lyrics properly. Tang poetry is extremely easy to translate into English. If you don’t believe me, my own many personal translations should be encouraging enough as evidence that it at least can be done (https://chineselyricpoetry.wordpress.com/translations/), with many guidelines explained (https://chineselyricpoetry.wordpress.com/guidelines/).
True stories sell. Believe it or not.