At the beginning of the film, you will hear this fable:
The old woman remembered a swan she had bought many years ago in Shanghai for a foolish sum. “This bird,” boasted the market vendor, “was once a duck that stretched its neck in hopes of becoming a goose, and now, look, it is too beautiful to eat.”
Then the woman and the swan sailed across an ocean many thousands of li wide, stretching their necks toward America. On her journey, she cooed to the swan, “In America, I will have a daughter just like me, but over there nobody will say her worth is measured by the loudness of her husband’s belch. Over there, nobody will look down on her because I will make her speak perfect American English. And over there, she will always be too full to swallow any sorrow. She will know my meaning because I will give her this swan, a creature that became more than what was hoped for.”
But when she arrived in the new country, the immigration officials pulled the swan away from her, leaving the woman fluttering her arms and with only one swan feather for a memory. For a long time now, the woman had wanted to give her daughter the single swan feather and tell her, “This feather may look worthless, but it comes from afar and carries with it all my good intentions.”
What does this mean? Why does the film begin with this fable?