In fact, it is not a good idea to translate the title Sheng xia guang nian (盛夏光年) into Eternal summer.
In Chinese, sheng xia (盛夏) is the time of a year when the earth is closest to the sun. However, even the closest distance between them is measured by guang nian (光年), or light year, with every unit equal to 9.460.730.472.580,8 km in length. This symbolizes an unattainable relationship, like “mirror flower, water moon” [鏡中的花，水裡的月].
And that is exactly the unrequited love of Kang Cheng-hsing (康正行) for Yu Shou-heng (余守恆). Cheng-hsing and Shou-heng grew up together, but it was not until Hui-chia (慧嘉) showed up that Cheng-hsing woke up to his feeling for Shou-heng, and also the distance between them.
In Mandarin, “hsing” (行) means “planet”; “heng” (恆) means “star”; and “hui” (慧) means “comet”.
Cheng-hsing recognized himself plunged into an abyss of an intense straight crush which he tried to pull himself out so many times. He held back the urge to kiss Shou-heng, became anxious about the risk of revelation and struggled with jealousy knowing that Shou-heng and Hui-chia had already been a couple.
Like other great movies with gay love theme, in Eternal summer, the conflict is internal; the characters suffer inwardly. This movie brings us way beyond the sexual orientation issues, to the intrinsic dilemma of human condition between our freedom and the disturbance that we involuntarily cause in the lives of people around us.
In Vietnam, a decade has passed, and the grey clouds of the homophobic time, when homosexuality is listed as social vice, have gone away, but left behind permanent mental scars. After “It gets better” and then “Pride”, hardly any young gay boys nowadays really know how it felt to be a closeted gay man in the beginning of 2000s.
Watching Eternal summer, those who experienced such difficult time could relate much more easily than today’s boys love drama. Eternal summer was pretty much like my days at senior high.
My prideful destruction, my abhorrent ordinariness, I hated them.
Then I recall that it’s these things I love the most
讓盛夏去貪玩 把殘酷的未來 狂放到光年外 而現在
Let’s go and enjoy ourselves in the midsummer; the future is light years away; and now,
放棄規則 放縱去愛 放肆自己 放空未來
Let go off the rules, give in to love, ignore the future
我不轉彎 我不轉彎 我不轉彎 我不轉彎
I won’t turn back!
(Eternal summer original sound track, by Mayday)