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The essay is a comparison of two major films, ‘The Story of Qin Ju’ released back in 1992 and ‘Ermo’ released in 1994. It is worth noting that both the films are of Chinese background. The two are under the genre comedy drama films directed Zhang Yimou (The story of Qin Ju) and Zhou Xiaowen (Ermo).
The two films have two female protagonists developing different themes as well as other characters. Concerning ‘The story of Qin Ju’, the main actress Qin Ju although she is expectant and she was in her last trimester could not burry her head in the sand after seeing her husband kicked several times in the groin.
She decided to visit the town and face the bureaucratic system of justice in her city. Through several appeal, Qin Ju secured justice. However, when she was about to deliver, she experienced some complication.
Her husbands went ahead to wake the village head who later saved her life as Qin Ju was taken to the hospital and safely delivered a baby boy. Officials came to the village and took an x-ray of Qin Ju husband which later showed that he had a broken rib. The headman was taken to jail for a period of fifteen days. Her efforts of trying to block this did not yield any fruit.
Ermo on the other hand is about a Chinese woman, Ermo who is hard working. Since her husband who was a chief suffers from a health complication that prevent him from undertaking any meaningful duties, she is responsible for taking care of him and their child by selling noodles.
However Ermo is in some sort of competition and jealous with her neighbour who has a television set although no child. This means that every other child including Ermo’s son would wish to be in that family.
For this reason she went an extra mile working outside her village so that she could afford the biggest television set ever seen in the village. Her quest of owning such a TV has ruined her family. Ideally, the culture of Chinese people is being washed away by westernization.
Similarities between the protagonists
A critical analysis of these two films clearly leaves the viewer with some incidences that are similar to both the protagonists; Qin Ju and Ermo. First and foremost, both the actresses are fully performing the duties of a woman based on the Chinese culture.
We are told for instance from the onset that Qin Ju was not only living with her husband and their father but also with her sister. This is a clear indication that she performed her duties as a woman to ensure that the bond between family members is strong.
Additionally, it is evident enough that she is performing her duties as a woman when she was pregnant for her husband. Similarly, Ermo acts on the similar position as Qin Ju. This is exemplified by the fact that since her husband who was a village head got sick and could not do any meaningful work, she took the mantle and engaged herself in selling noodles so that she could take care of her family.
Her family constituted the ailing husband and their only son. According to Chinese culture, it is rare to see a woman buying medicine for her husband which Ermo does. This depicts the love and care she has to her family.
The same is also the case with Qin Ju who went to the bitter end trying to ensure that her husband’s case is satisfactorily handled. However it is quite odd for the women to take roles that are reserved for men for instance providing and taking care of the family (Ermo) and fighting for justice as in the case of Qin Ju.
In my view, both female protagonists depict the new phase of China. Although both are women who are supposed to assume duties and responsibilities that opt to fit their gender, they went and extra mile in ensuring that justice is served and the family acquires material things; that is for Qin Ju and Ermo respectively.
We see that Qin Ju struggled so much to ensure that justice is done for her husband who was kicked mercilessly on the groin by the village headman. She was determined to take the pain and scolding provided her husband’s case is treated to her satisfaction; this is despite the fact that she was pregnant and was about to deliver.
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Ermo reflects the new China depicted by the financial independence and empowerment she has this fills the role of old China which is represented by her ailing husband who was once a chief. The bottom line when considering these two characters is that they are determined and are very hard working.
Additionally the two protagonists come from a poor background. This I mean in terms of finances. For instance when Qin Ju was travelling to the city she had to sell on several occasion dried hot pepper so that they could raise bus fare. Similarly, Ermo who was obsessed with the desire to buy a big TV had no money and she was compelled to continue selling her noodles outside her village.
I can also say that the two women exhibited high standards of morality. There is no incident that Qin Ju has been shown to engage in extra marital affairs or disrespect her husband.
On the same note, although Ermo husband was impotent due to sickness, she did not give in to the sexual advances she received from the ‘Blind man’. Ideally the two female protagonists are vehicle of change (political, cultural and social) that China will experience in future.
Differences between the protagonists
Although there are similarities between the two main actresses of the films; there are some differences between them. One such difference is with regards to what drove their action. For Ermo, it is evident that it was jealous that drove her to acquire a television set that is huge and very expensive for her family.
Viewers understand that her quest to buy a TV is purely as a result of her neighbour acquiring one. This leaves Ermo to be seen as a materialist and jealous person. This leaves her to be branded a greedy person since it is rumoured that the TV she wants to buy is so expensive that even the country leader cannot afford.
On the other hand, Qin Ju fight for justice is purely guided by injustice done to her husband by the village headman. She considers this to be uncouth and against fundamental human rights and she believes that if nothing is done then the same will repeat itself in future.
Similarly, it is worth noting that the actions of the two lead to different outcomes. For instance, the desire of Ermo to go to the city and engage in activities that will earn her more money has jeopardized her relationship with her family.
On the other hand, the relationship between Qin Ju and her family has indeed grown stronger. This is because her husband has realized that she cares for him so much that she sought justice for him through the right path.
It is worth mentioning that while Ermo did not get the satisfaction she desired Qin Ju was at the end of the day satisfied. However, she was unable to prevent the police from taking the village head to jail for fifteen days as she believed he was the one who saved her life that fateful night when she was in labour pains.
There are several differences between these female protagonists in the films, from my own analysis the character Qiu Ju from the film The Story of Qiu Ju, is tolerant and very persistent, while Ermo, from the film Ermo is not tolerant but hasty and over ambitious.
The tolerant nature of Qiu Ju is portrayed in the film from the moment her husband was injured by the political leader. She opts to follow her heart thus ensure that her demands are taken care of thus providing her ailing husband with the proper treatment that she would ever offer to him, this is when she swore to the politician that she will take him to court for his action.
While Ermo is intolerant when she conducts her activities as a result of competition and pride, this is when she said to Blindman that she will buy a bigger TV set than his and it will be the envy of the village.
From the review of the two films; the story of Qin Ju and Ermo, it is evident that they are Chinese comedy drama films. The story line is about Chinese women who are striving to make the lives of their families’ better one by fighting for justice while the other aimed at acquiring material things, TV set.
It is worth noting that the two female protagonists have a lot in common for instance they are hard-working, determined as well as being the face of change in China.
However, they do exhibit differences for instance Ermo is materialistic while Qin Ju is not, the driving force for their actions are totally different as Ermo is driven by jealousy and greed while Qin Ju is driven by the desire to fight for justice.
Ermo. Dir. Zhou Xiaown. Prod. Chen Kunming & Jimmy Tan. DVD. Sony Pictures Classics, 1994.
The Story of Qin Ju. Dir. Yimou Zhang. Prod. Yiting Feng & Kwok ma Fung. DVD. Sony Pictures Classics, 1992.