With its roofs covered with golden *tiles, red painted walls and gray-white bases, the Forbidden City is well known for being full of Chinese cultural and historical *relics. But Masters in the Forbidden City (《我在故宫修文物》) doesn’t just *dwell on the stories of the past. Instead, the documentary movie, which came out in Chinese cinemas on Dec 16, focuses on ordinary people–the restorers of the relics and antiquities.
金瓦朱墙、灰白的地砖，故宫因其厚重的中国历史文化遗产而闻名遐迩。但这部12月16日上映的纪录片电影《我在故宫修文物》并没有沉湎于过去的故事，而是关注了一群普通人 —— 文物古迹的修复师。
The film was based on the hugely popular three-episode TV documentary of the same title shown in January on China Central Television.
The stories are told at a slow and leisurely pace, reflecting the restorers’ work. For example, the female textile restorers are not allowed to wear any make-up or perfume, and they can’t do their nails because the chemicals can react badly with the textiles.
The restoration of cultural relics and antiques can also be time-consuming, and sometimes boring. Yet the restorers’ patience and peace of mind are especially precious in a society in which everything is changing so fast.
“If you choose this job, you have to endure hours of work sitting on a chair. You need to be quiet and get used to being quiet,” Wang Jin, an ancient clock repair expert, says in the movie.
A touching part of the documentary is the spirit of *craftsmanship in the restorers. “Years of *humdrum work require not only skill, but also faith and spirit,” China Daily commented. “Looking for preciseness and perfection, devoting yourself to work, strong patience, endurance, loneliness...all these qualities come from the ‘craftsman spirit’.”
But unlike the popular idea of *stuffy experts who sit around being serious, the documentary shows off the enthusiasm of the restorers. They play their guitars and make jokes about each other after a long day of work.
One scene that’s been popular with internet users features a young female restorer riding a bicycle through the empty Forbidden City on a Monday. While she is doing this, a narrator says, “The last person to do this was Puyi, the last emperor of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911).”
“Masters in the Forbidden City has proved wrong many people’s ideas about antique restorers, allowing them to realize that they are not old, dull professors, but people in their 40s, 30s and even 20s who can be quite pleasing to the eye,” the Global Times commented.
The documentary has even made some young people ask the question, “Is it too late to change my job?”