The film marked the third time Hui directed an Eileen Chang adaptation (following 1984's Love In A Fallen City and 1997's Eighteen Springs). It was an adaption of Chang's short story, Aloeswood Incense: The First Brazier, a sprawling love story set in 1940s Hong Kong.
Contextually, however, the film suffers on a number of levels, even if there are some pros in that aspect. To start with the second, the harsh coming-of-age Weilong experiences in the world of the rich and in the hands of George is well presented, with her transformation being one of the best parts of the narrative, also benefiting the most by Sichun Ma's acting. The fact that, even in the world of the rich, drama and suffering lurks in every corner, is also presented in entertaining fashion, with the same applying to the fact that Hong Kong of the 30's was a man's world, and a Western man's even more to be more specific. Lastly, that it was also a setting where one could indulge one's erotic aspirations quite easily, but equally hard when it came to real love, also emerges as one of the most dramatic and most eloquently depicted aspects of the movie.
My name is Panos Kotzathanasis and I am Greek. Being a fan of Asian cinema and especially of Chinese kung fu and Japanese samurai movies since I was a little kid, I cultivated that love during my adolescence, to extend to the whole of SE Asia.
A virus that does not recognize barriers, borders, or cultural or political distinctions must be faced with a love without barriers, borders or distinctions. This love can generate social structures that encourage us to share rather than to compete, that allow us to include the most vulnerable and not to cast them aside, and that help us to express the best in our human nature and not the worst. True love does not know the throw-away culture, it does not know what it is. In fact, when we love and generate creativity, when we generate trust and solidarity, it is then that concrete initiatives for the common good emerge.
Unfortunately, politics does not often have a good reputation, and we know why. This is not to say that all politicians are bad, no, I do not want to say this. I am only saying that unfortunately, politics does not often have a good reputation. But we should not resign ourselves to this negative vision, but instead react to it by showing in deeds that good politics is possible, indeed dutiful, one that puts the human person and the common good at the centre. If you read the history of humanity you will find many holy politicians who trod this path. It is possible insofar as every citizen, and especially those who assume social and political commitments and positions, root their action in ethical principles and nurture it with social and political love. Christians, in a particular way the lay faithful, are called to give a good example of this and can do so thanks to the virtue of charity, cultivating its intrinsic social dimension.
Figure 1. Description: (A) Presence of love (all factors are present). (B) Absence of love (state of non-love or state where all factors are latent or dormant). (C) Different levels of love due to variations in the four factors. (D) Movement from non-love toward love (developmental stage: at least one but not all four factors are present). (E) Movement away from love toward non-love (decline stage: at least one or more of the four factors are absent).
A state of intense longing for union with another. Passionate love is a complex functional whole including appraisals or appreciations, subjective feelings, expressions, patterned physiological processes, action tendencies, and instrumental behaviors. Reciprocated love (union with the other) is associated with fulfillment and ecstasy; unrequited love (separation) with emptiness, anxiety, or despair (Hatfield and Rapson, 1993, p. 5).
This kind of love derives from a combination of the intimacy and passion components of love. In essence, it is liking with an added element, namely, the arousal brought about by physical attraction and its concomitants. According to this view, then, romantic lovers are not only drawn physically to each other but are also bonded emotionally (Sternberg, 1986, p. 124).
A large body of research has developed around universal mate preferences (e.g., Buss and Barnes, 1986; Buss, 1989; Buss et al., 1990; Buss and Schmitt, 2019; Walter et al., 2020). Women, more than men, show a strong preference for resource potential, social status, a slightly older age, ambition and industriousness, dependability and stability, intelligence, compatibility, certain physical indicators, signs of good health, symmetry, masculinity, love, kindness, and commitment (Buss, 1989, 2016; Walter et al., 2020). Men, more than women, have preferences for youth, physical beauty, certain body shapes, chastity, and fidelity (Buss, 1989, 2016). Both sexes have particularly strong preferences for kindness and intelligence (Buss et al., 1990). A male-taller-than-female norm exists in mate preferences and there is some evidence that women have a preference for taller-than-average height (e.g., Salska et al., 2008; Yancey and Emerson, 2014). Mutual attraction and reciprocated love are the most important characteristics that both women and men look for in a potential partner (Buss et al., 1990).
Many mate preferences are relatively universal and therefore are likely to have at least some genetic basis (as suggested by, Sugiyama, 2015). While mate preferences are linked to actual mate selection (Li et al., 2013; Li and Meltzer, 2015; Conroy-Beam and Buss, 2016; Buss and Schmitt, 2019), strong mate preferences do not always translate into real-world mate choice (Todd et al., 2007; Stulp et al., 2013). This is in part because mate preferences function in a tradeoff manner whereby some preferences are given priority over others (see Li et al., 2002; Thomas et al., 2020). That is, mate choice is a multivariate process that includes the integration and tradeoff of several preferences (Conroy-Beam et al., 2016). Mate preferences are important because they may serve as a means of screening potential mates, while sexual desire and attraction operationalize these preferences, and romantic love crystalizes them.
Reward and motivation structures associated with romantic love include those found in the mesolimbic pathway: the ventral tegmental area, nucleus accumbens, amygdala, and medial prefrontal cortex (Xu et al., 2015). Activity in the mesolimbic pathway substantiates the claim that romantic love is a motivational state (Fisher et al., 2005) and helps to explain why romantic love is characterized by psychological features such as longing for reciprocity, desire for complete union, service to the other, maintaining physical closeness, and physiological arousal (Hatfield and Sprecher, 1986).
The primary areas associated with both romantic love and sexual desire and arousal include the caudate, insula, putamen, and anterior cingulate cortex (Diamond and Dickenson, 2012). The involvement of these regions helps to explain why people experiencing romantic love feel extremely sexually attracted to their loved one (Hatfield and Sprecher, 1986). The neural similarities and overlapping psychological characteristics of romantic love and sexual desire are well documented (see Hatfield and Rapson, 2009; Cacioppo et al., 2012a; Diamond and Dickenson, 2012).
In addition to activity in these four systems, romantic love is associated with activity in higher-order cortical brain areas that are involved in attention, memory, mental associations, and self-representation (Cacioppo et al., 2012b). Mate choice (a function of romantic love detailed below) has been specifically associated with the mesolimbic pathway and hypothalamus (Calabrò et al., 2019). The mesolimbic pathway, thalamus, hypothalamus, amygdala, septal region, prefrontal cortex, cingulate cortex, and insula have been specifically associated with human sexual behavior (Calabrò et al., 2019), which has implications for the sex function of romantic love (detailed below).
Romantic love is associated with changes in the sex hormones testosterone, follicle-stimulating hormone, and luteinizing hormone (Marazziti and Canale, 2004; Durdiakova et al., 2017; Sorokowski et al., 2019), although the findings have been inconsistent. Testosterone appears to be lower in men experiencing romantic love than controls (Marazziti and Canale, 2004) and higher eros scores are associated with lower levels of testosterone in men (Durdiakova et al., 2017). Lower levels of testosterone in fathers are associated with greater involvement in parenting (see Storey et al., 2020, for review). The direction of testosterone change in women is unclear (see Marazziti and Canale, 2004; Sorokowski et al., 2019). Sex hormones are involved in the establishment and maintenance of sexual characteristics, sexual behavior, and reproductive function (Mooradian et al., 1987; Chappel and Howles, 1991; Holloway and Wylie, 2015). Some sex hormones can influence behavior through their organizing effects resulting from prenatal and postnatal exposure. In the case of romantic love, however, the effects of sex hormones on the features of romantic love are the result of activating effects associated with behaviorally contemporaneous activity. It is possible that sex hormones influence individual differences in the presentation of romantic love through their organizing effect (see Motta-Mena and Puts, 2017; Luoto et al., 2019; Arnold, 2020; McCarthy, 2020, for descriptions of organizing and activating effects of testosterone, estradiol, and progesterone). Changes in sex hormones could help to explain the increase in sexual desire and arousal associated with romantic love (Hatfield and Sprecher, 1986; Hatfield and Rapson, 2009; Diamond and Dickenson, 2012).
Romantic love is associated with decreased serotonin transporter density (Marazziti et al., 1999) and changes in plasma serotonin (Lan