When friendship burns – A reflection on 天與地 (When heaven burns)

Yan in When Heaven Burns

Despite all the noise and buzz on 天與地 (When Heaven Burns), let’s boil it down to one theme: friendship.

Through music, they meet and through band, they form friendship. They clash and they reconcile. During a snowstorm,however, something happened that will crack an irreconcilable gap in their friendship; they ate Ka Ming, their best friend, to survive.

From this onward, they depart, which is not unusual. After all, you won’t like to meet someone who knows you have eaten another human.

Life is like a pendulum. When you go to one end, the pendulum will swing back to another extreme. 鼓佬 (Joe) attempts to redeem his sin by living like an ascetic monk and fighting for the interests of workers. It’s precisely this that he is destined to fail.

鼓佬’s mentor 泉叔 (Kong Chiu Chuen), acting as his moral guardian, tries to guide him to the right path. He is fighting for  justice and welfare of workers, not to redeem his own sin.

Inevitably they clash when 鼓佬 runs for the legislative council’s seat. He has shifted his attention to achieve success through whatever means; he is representing himself, not the workers. His final break with his moral guardian 泉叔 thus signals another phase of his life – 鼓佬 will swing from an ascetic monk to a unscrupulous career – seeker.

Instead of helping other people, 黑仔 (Angus) anesthetize himself by committing even more crimes. He manipulates women, lures people to play risky stock market index and then loan – sharks to them. Rather similar as 鼓佬, he has swung to another extreme after semi – liberate himself from his own guilt.

Only one person has stay unchanged: Yan (/Hazel, 葉梓恩). She does seem to waver and distrust people when it reveals her 3 best friends lied and have eaten her her boyfriend Ka Ming. A disillusioned woman with the exact same name 葉梓恩 has changed her mind. After being released from the prison, that woman killed her husband who has abandoned her before.

Yan knows she will be gotten into the same scenario if she continue to distrust and remain skeptical of everything. She will run into the same dead – end and get disillusioned.

鼓佬 and 黑仔 have always been the two oscillating forces. Ronnie got trapped in this field of force and was unable to move. Both of them love Yan; when they got rid of Ka Ming, partly on survival instincts and perhaps partly on jealousy, they will be destined to clash – not necessarily for love, but definitely to outcompete for the sake to outcompete.

Each with their clashing personalities, fate has driven them to meet after 18 years. Their friendship burns not to glow, but to get self – destructed into ashes.

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