The Return of Lady Wenji
- ScreenwriterYuen Siu-faiYip Shiu-tuck
The story takes place in the Three Kingdoms Period (220-280). Cai Wenji, the daughter of Cai Yong, is famous for her nonpareil accomplishments in literature as well as music. She is captured by a Xiongnu (Huns) chieftan, the Wise Prince of the Left, during the chaotic times of war. He admires her artistic gift and finally wins her heart, so the two become husband and wife. Twelve years later, Cao Cao has gained power and is the prime minister of Han. He remembers his old friend, the historian Cai Yong, who had left no heir to continue his monumental work of writing The Book of Han. So he sends an envoy to the Huns, expressing willingness to pay a large ransom for Cai’s release and return to Han land. He envisions that she would pick up the work from where her father left off, and, feeling grateful and indebted to him, she would write him favourably into the historical archives. What Cao has mistaken is that he may have a good intent, but the rude severance of Cai from her family in Hun is taking away all her happiness. As wife and mother, she is never able to see her husband and son again. She is so heartbroken that she grieves to the end. On her long journey back to Han land, Lady Cai pours out her heart in a song cycle with lyrics, both of which she writes. And that, is the creation of the masterpiece, Eighteen Variations on a Hu Pipe Melody.