His sudden death shocked not only those in the film circles.
All who love Chinese films made in the 1950s, 60s, 70s and 80s feel sad about his death.
Xie Jin's name itself has been a synonym for realism in Chinese films in the past several decades.
He was found dead in a hotel in his hometown Shangyu city early Saturday morning. He was participating in the 110th birthday celebration of his Alma Mater.
At 85, he outlived for less than two months his 59-year-old son, who died of lung cancer in August this year. He was survived by a mentally-retarded son and still hospitalized wife.
Life was a bit cruel to him; he had two sons who were mentally disabled and his only son who had stepped in his shoes died before him. But his films had provided his contemporaries with their most loved pastime.
There was no such expression as "blockbusters" at least in China when he was at his prime. Yet his name was as powerful as any advertisement and would fill all cinemas to their capacity.
At a time when political ideology dominated any artistic works, the human interest and humanitarianism his films had demonstrated through the heroines or heroes in one way or another echoed the sentiments of the audience.
Some of his most well-known films touched off different degrees of political ripples. They were either accused of lacking in consciousness about the class struggle or of over-indulging in the depiction of bourgeois humanitarianism.
Even in the late 1980s, long after the "cultural revolution" (1966-76), his film "Hibiscus Town" was accused of demonizing socialism by conservatives.
But his films are all considered by both critics and audiences as masterpieces in either artistic value or historical significance.
Xie Jin said on different occasions that a film director should direct some films that endure the test of time. He did exactly that, especially after 1976.
His Hibiscus Town is still a must for anyone who has never experienced that turmoil to understand how and why good people were politically persecuted and bad guys rose in life.
Another of his films, Legend of Tianyun Mountain, was a mirror of how human nature was distorted during that particular period of history.
He once said that as a director one must have compassion in directing his works, and one's films were very likely to reflect one's character and personality. This is exactly true of many of the films he had directed.
When many young film lovers flock to cinemas to watch expensive blockbusters but are often disappointed by the shallowness of their content, we should remember that we once had a good director who gave us thought-provoking films.
When the film critics today debate about where the Chinese film industry should go, we should also get clues from Xie Jin who believed films must convey explicit ideas about human nature irrespective of the modern technology they use and the methods they adopt.
We will remember him not only because we love his films. It is also because we need someone to emulate him in providing us with better films.