Chinese documentary about great Tang Dynasty poet Li Bai arouses passion in young Chinese to pursue their dreams
Published: Dec 05, 2021 09:08 PM
Chinese documentary Li Bai Photo: Sina Weibo

Chinese documentary Li Bai Photo: Sina Weibo

After learning about the life of the master poet who lived 1,300 years ago in the historical documentary Li Bai on CCTV-9, many young Chinese viewers have taken to social media to talk about pursuing their dreams. 

The four-episode documentary took three years to be filmed as the crew traveled to eight provinces around China. The program aims to restore a well-rounded image of the great poet Li Bai based on solid historical records, as well as the latest research carried out by experts and scholars. 

The third episode mainly depicts the stories between Li and his friend, another famous and esteemed poet, Du Fu. Their friendship is referred to as a "fairy friendship." 

When BBC called Du as "China's greatest poet" in their documentary, they seem to have forgotten Li is also a prominent genius in Chinese poetry history. 

In BBC's Du Fu: China's Greatest Poet, historian Yuan Haiwang said Du's poems are "as important in Chinese literary history as Shakespeare is to people in Britain." This remark can also be used for Li's poems. Living in the Tang Dynasty (618-907) during the "Golden Age of Chinese Poetry," Li used his talent to send poetry to a new height. 

"If Du Fu is the greatest poet in China, then Li Bai is the most talented poet in the history of Chinese poetry," Jiang Yufang, a professor of ancient Chinese literature at the Chinese National Academy of Arts, told the Global Times on Sunday.

"Some scholars often said 'people can imitate Du Fu's poetry but cannot imitate Li's poetry because he is a genius,'" she added.

Much of Li's life is reflected in his poetry: his romance, chivalry, heroism, and freedom while traveling around the mountains and rivers of China, and his unappreciated and tough career path. He witnessed the Tang Dynasty's unparalleled height of prosperity, and dreamed about being an excellent officer in the court to serve the dynasty, but experienced challenge after challenge until his death.

The documentary shows Li's extraordinary imagination, which was endowed with vitality and enthusiasm, and the lofty dreams that remained after being hit by reality. 

Li Bai has earned great word of mouth among Chinese netizens. The story of the poet's life has aroused many young Chinese's interest in asking a single question: "What would they do if their dreams were frustrated, just like Li?"

Some netizens wrote that unlike Li, they might change to another dream in order to not give themselves too much pressure or unhappiness, while other netizens said they would choose to "hold on straight to the end."

"The voyage is more important than the destination. Don't give up, or else you may regret it one day," one netizen commented. 

"Many people who like Li Bai's poetry actually like the spirit he conveyed - the spirit of never giving up and dreaming about contributing to society, just like many young people who have the same dream in this era," said Jiang.