The King of masks was released as the twentieth century came to an end. The twentieth century was a period marked by civilization and independence of people, attributed to the theory of rights. As a result, individuals were freed from the shackles of oppression, which were prevalent in historic times.
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The film’s scenes are a reflection of what happened in the 1930s, far from the contemporary world. The film is a typical representation of what was going on in China with regard to gender inequality. Gender inequality was engraved in the culture of ancient people and that is why Wang (played by Zhu Xu) failed to teach Doggie (Zhou Ren-ying), the presumed boy, the art of bian lian when he finally got to learn about the gender of this adopted child.
During the time when the film was being produced, China was the epitome of historic cultural values and norms. Cultural values and norms were very eminent in the lives of people in ancient times but, China was still clinging on to these domains up to the twentieth century. Male children were highly regarded as compared to the female children. Inheritance could only be passed on to the male child, leaving out the girl child.
This film was used to show how society was prejudiced in relation to gender. The film was used at that particular time to show that China needed to let go of socio-sexual inequality and embrace equality indicated as the film comes to an ending. The film shows that social inequality with regard to gender is not associated with any benefits but the converse is the case. Doggie proves that a girl is of equal importance as a boy through her courageous acts.
This film shows a great deal of historic accuracy in the way the events have been used to reflect the history of the whole world at large and that of China at that particular moment. Historic accuracy prevails from the fact that the film has shown actual events that used to take place in ancient times.
The time and place, which have been used to show these events, enhance the accuracy involved. This history is distorted in the long run and slants towards social equality when Wang agrees to teach the secrets of bian lian art to Doggie. The events in the film reveal courage, confidence and sheer determination in Doggie, which could not have been manifested in a more rigorous manner had she been a boy. All along, Doggie shows off her vitality and proves to Wang that she can be of equal importance the same way a boy can.
The writer has used the events in the film to push for change, which has already been adopted in most parts of the world. The main theme of the story revolves around change, symbolizing the present society. The reason why the writer has chosen this theme is to voice out the need for change in China. The film advocated for gender equality and empowerment of the weaker sex. Nevertheless, in the long run, it led to the communist revolution which came later as people continued to seek equality from different perspectives.
There are biases involved with regard to the sex of a child. The film presents a certain kind of favor towards the male child. Wang is disappointed when he eventually finds out that the boy he buys for adoption is actually a girl. His disappointed is attributed to the fact that he is not supposed to pass on his bian lian opera art of changing mask to none other than a male heir.
The ability and potentiality of a girl child is looked down upon and that is why such kind of an art could not be passed to a female child as she was considered to be weak. Another bias presents itself when Wang, a performer with a humble background is accused of kidnapping just because he is not rich. It is through the intervention of highly prominent and highly regarded people that Wang is released. This shows discrimination against the poor as it has always been the case even in the contemporary world.
The film reflects the time and place of its making in that it covers the period of the 1930s when cultural politics and gender issues where a main issue in China, the place where the film was produced. The period and place in the film was the actual manifestation of the place and period of production. Therefore, there is a great connection between the time and place in the film and that of the actual location, which is China.
The film is a great act of historical education as it shows the issues that prevailed in the past with regard to gender and culture. Despite the fact that the film has been centered in China, the events in the film are a representation of what went on globally. The only difference is that China still lagged behind on the issue of gender equality. Historical education is perceived from the film in showing how inheritance was passed on to future generations and in what way. It shows the perceived roles of both men and women in historic times when men were deemed to be more superior to women.
Tianming, Wu. The King of Masks. A Film Review by James Berardinelli. (1999). Web.
Tianming, Wu. The King of Masks. Editorial Review by Laura Mirsky. Web.
Tianming, Wu. The King of Masks. A Film Review by Roger Ebert. Sun Times Company. Web.
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- Wu Tianming, “The King of Masks (Bian Lian)”, A Film Review by James Berardinelli, (1999).
- Wu Tianming, The King of Masks, Editorial Review by Laura Mirsky.
- Wu Tianming, The King of Masks, A Film Review by Roger Ebert, Sun Times Company.