"You cannot love without knowing pleasure,
have sorrow without knowing happiness.
You need to know all of them to know one,
and that balance came out."
~ Chinese Proverb [19588]

An entire movie was written and created based on this one proverb from ancient China. And like most great proverbs, the message unfolds in layers of complexity. The Air I Breathe, directed by Jieho Lee, breaks the story down to the four elementary emotions mentioned in the proverb; happiness, pleasure, sorrow and love. The four emotions are played by Forest Whitaker, Brendan Fraser, Sarah Michelle Gellar, and Kevin Bacon respectively.

The "need to know all of them" part of the proverb is played by Andy Garcia, known as "Fingers" who ties all four appendages of the proverb together.

While the film wasn't a box office success, it certainly earns respect for its originality. From the perspective of explaining the many facets of a proverb, and bring it to life, it is well worth seeing. Most writers who integrate a proverb into a book or movie, do so to illustrate a specific point. In this case, the movie serves to illustrate the proverb.

More Chinese Proverbs