Well I watched the first of eleven movies in my Asian film class. It was directed by Zhang Yimou in 1990. It takes place in 1920s China. The owner of a dye shop buys a wife who he beats and tries to beget an heir with. He has taken in a “nephew” who he adopts. This nephew falls in love with the wife, Ju Dou, same as the name of the film. She also falls in love with him. They eventually have a child together. The uncle is infertile so of course it’s not his. Eventually, the uncle becomes paralyzed and they keep him around to torture him. This and thier son is their downfall. The boy is one of the creepiest kids in film I’ve seen. He would suddenly just be standing their watching his parents together. Not to mention that he killed two people in the movie, but you’ll have to watch to see who.
There is a lot of symbolism in the film and allusions. It was as much a work of art as a show. The setting fit pefectly with the actions of the characters and vice versa. This film was said to be banned in China for its sensual nature. It could also be utter disrepect for authority which is supposed to take presidence over one’s desires which was definitely not the case in this movie.
I liked the movie. I kind of wished I knew Chinese sometimes because the translations made me wonder if that’s what they were really saying. Sometimes things came across as funny in English like the use of the phrase “it’s a fat boy” instead of just “it’s a boy.” And what’s the significance of “fat boy”? Also the child’s outfit in which he could not move and the mother’s words “why won’t he laugh yet?”. Was the outfit supposed to be funny or did I just perceive it that way because I don’t know about Chinese baby clothing in the ’20s. There’s a lot to dwell on in this movie like the treatment of women, tradition, and Chinese society.