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Academic Analysis and Comparison of Films “The Story of Qiu Ju” and “Ermo” Essay (Movie Review)

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Updated: Jun 24th, 2019

Social life in each country is considered to be one of the most rapidly changing aspects in environment. Living in the world where globalization has occupied all the spheres of countries’ life, society has to subject to the changes which occur.

Western world is more open for changes. Rapid economical growth and political stability have created supportive conditions for democratization of the society.

Eastern countries due to low development and other specific problems in economical and political life failed to create supportive environment, therefore, the social development in these countries seem to be slower.

China was a developing country in 90s with low social and economical development. People in villages were too poor and did not have many rights. Men ruled and women had to subject. However, remembering the history and the political events which occurred in 90’s in China, it is possible to point at the changes in the political situation.

The time Mao was over and China appeared in the period of changes, social, political and economical. The Story of Qiu Ju (1992) and Ermo (1994) are two Chinese movies which present these changes.

The focus of the movies may be covered by the following themes, the life in a village, complicated situation women are put into and the changes which created opportunities for females to come of the shade of men, the place of poor people and modernization of life in the post Mao period.

The influence of the Western tendencies on the Chinese culture is also presented as one of the themes of the movie.

Having chosen The Story of Qiu Ju (1992) and Ermo (1994) as two movies which are going to be criticized, it is important to mention that the themes in the movies have slight differences, however, the focus on the changed s which occurred in the Chinese society in 90’s in perfectly followed.

Comparing the spry-lines, it is possible to follow the change of the female characters from the beginning of the film up to the end. The changes in the characters occurred slightly, like the changes in the Chinese society. Moreover, there were many complications and barriers on the way to changes which were successfully overcome.

The significant role of the movies under consideration is in direct and fair presentation of the situation which was in the society, the changing conditions and other barriers which were created, such as failure to understand that the changes are possible, refusal of relatives to understand those who have decided to change and the social inequality which created many problems on the way for gaining just.

The plot of each movie is rather primitive, but the meaning of the movies and their role in the social life of China is great. The Story of Qiu Ju (1992) dwells upon Qiu Ju and her husband Qinglai, peasants who live in a small village.

Qiu Ju is at her third trimester of pregnancy. Her husband Qinglai is severely beaten by the head of the village and Qinglai cannot work. Qiu Ju dgoes to the head of the village and demands him to pay, but he refuses. Searching for just, Qiu Ju goes to the court.

Court’s decision is to pay the family 200 yuan. The headman refuses and Qiu Ju goes to the big city to suit there. The city’s verdict is almost the same, but a headman has to pay 250 yuan. Qiu Ju is dissatisfied with the verdict believing that her husband who is unable to work deserves more.

Suiting for the higher police investigation and her husband is X-rayed in the city hospital. The whole procedure takes much time and one winter night Qiu Ju feels complications and seem to give birth, The headman is waken up at night. He takes several men and they carry Qiu Ju to the hospital where she gives birth for a boy.

However, the X-ray showed that Qiu Ju’s husband had a broken rib and the headmaster is jailed for fifteen days. Qiu Ju does not have an opportunity to stop the police (Zhang, 1992).

Ermo (1994) is a movie about a village women who is not really popular in her place. People make jokes of her, and when she sees that her neighbors have bough a TV set, she tries to make all possible to buy it as well.

However, her desire to become popular and respected in the village makes her obsessive with the purchase of the largest screen to make all people envy her. Contradicting the will of her husband, who remains in the village, Ermo goes to the city to work there and earn money for a new TV.

Being obsessed with this idea, she eventually earns enough money and returns to the village. People are impressed as they have never seen a TV with such big screen. The whole village comes to Ermo to watch TV (Kunming, Tan, & Xiaowen, 1994).

Analyzing the movies, the first aspect which attracts attention is the fact that a woman is in the center of the affair. The Asian traditional vision is focused on men who are the main members of the family and who solve all the problems.

However, these two movies show that the modernization in the Chinese society has enlarged the rights of women. Therefore, women have become more powerful and can perform more tasks they would never dare to do before.

Looking at Chinese society about 50 years before the timeline in the movie, women did not have any rights, they were dependant on their men. However, the social changes in the society, the modernization of the environment and other specific aspects have created different conditions.

In the China of 90’s when the changes occurred, women became freer, their attitude to life changed and they did not have the desire to wait for something, they wanted to do it themselves. Qiu Ju and Ermo are two women who did not want to wait for the will of men.

One of them dared to suit against a man, another one contradicted the will of her husband and went to the city. The changes related to gender roles occurred in the society and these two movies perfectly show those changes (Ermo – Women’s Independence, Men’s Impotence, 2012).

Women have become the force power of the Chinese society. The movies under consideration show how passive men may be. Living in villages, many men got used to the fact that that they are the leaders in the family, however, the world is changing and the tendency for women to become the leaders in the family can be observed.

The Story of Qiu Ju (1992) and Ermo (1994) are two movies which show the changes and ideally present he situations when women occupy the leading positions in the families, they make decisions, act and actively support their point of view.

In other words, women in the movies behave in the way they would never act 50 years prior to the described time (The situation of Chinese women, 2012).

Many changes have occurred in Chinese society and these changes became possible only as the part of modernization of China as the country. The political and economical changes created many opportunities for people.

Considering The Story of Qiu Ju (1992) where Qiu Ju managed to suit to the court and the decision was in her favor is a great example of the legal reform which became possible with the political change and society modernization. People were given the right to protect themselves.

The court procedure against a headman was impossible during the time of Mao ruling. The economic and political changes in the society seem to encourage people to protect their rights. Pei (2005) says, “Rising rights consciousness in Chinese society provides a social milieu within which invocations of rights are more likely to gain broad based support…

China’s extensive and deepening integration into the international system in general, and its various commitments to international laws and institutions in particular, have placed leaders under new constraints and provided dissidents with new sources of moral support” (p. 24). This is exactly the idea which may be seen in the movie.

Ermo (1994) presents slightly different theme connected with the changes in the Chinese society. Village has always been less developed than city. However, the desire of Ermo to have TV set and her attempts to get it in the village show hat village is not that economically strong.

She is unable to earn enough money to be able to buy a TV set, therefore, she goes to the city. The very fact that she managed to find a job there and earn enough money to buy the largest TV set shows that the economical situation in the city is better than in the village.

The changes which occurred after the Mao ruling were great. The country entered the international market, its products were cheaper, therefore, they were in demand. The economic reforms which occurred during those times also supported the increase of the employment rate and salary (Liou, 2000).

So, the movie Ermo (1994) reflects exactly the tomes when the economics of the country was at the high level, however, the raise was felt in cities, while villages still remained at he lower level of development. Nevertheless, the obsession of Ermo with the desire to buy a TV set made her go to the city, find the job there, and succeed.

The very idea that Ermo dared to go to the city, contradicting the will of her husband, also points at the change of the relations between men and women.

The final aspects which should be discussed in the movie is the influence of the American society on Chinese one. American people got used to suit against each other, American people cannot live without TV sets and this is America which proclaimed equal rights between men and women initially.

Therefore, the movies under consideration reflect the impact of the American society on the life and vision of the Chinese people. Being influenced by these tendencies, Chinese women decided to act in a way how an American women would act.

The most striking issue is that the succeeded that is one more proof of the changes in China. Only American people can present TV set as the reason for envy and honor. Most people in Chinese society used to earn respect via actions, however, the influence also brought this financial aspect in human respect.

Therefore, The Story of Qiu Ju (1992) and Ermo (1994) are the movies which do not only present the changes, but also point at the influence of American consideration on Chinese traditions.

Therefore, it may be concluded that The Story of Qiu Ju (1992) and Ermo (1994) are two movies which managed to present the period of changes in Chinese society in 90s. The most obvious and striking changes are presented, the shift of gender roles, the influence of American culture and the realization of personal rights.

The main idea is the influence of the Western tradition on the Chinese culture. Chinese people got used to the male domination, and absence of rights if one is poor.

However, post Mao period occupied with numerous social, economical and political reforms shows that people begin to feel legally protected, they realize their rights, want to achieve ore and do all possible to do it and present a woman as one of the equal member in the society to a man.

These movies reflect the life of Chinese people during reforms, the way how quickly women realized thei8r encouraging power and how fast men were shifted to lower positions.

Reference List

Ermo – Women’s Independence, Men’s Impotence. (2012). Thinking Chinese. Web.

Kunming, C., Tan, J., & Xiaowen, Z. (1994). Ermo [Motion picture]. China: Alia.

Liou, K. T. (2000). State-society relations in post-Mao Chinese economic reforms: Changes and challenges. International Journal of Economic Development, 2(1), pp. 132-154.

Pei, M. (2005). Rights and resistance: The changing contexts of the dissident movement. In E. J. Perry & M. Selden (eds.), Chinese society: Change, conflict and resistance. London: Routledge.

The situation of Chinese women. (2012, June 27). Xinhua News. Web.

Zhang, Y. (1992). The Story of Qiu Ju [Motion picture]. China: Alia.

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