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The two films ‘The Story of Qiu Ju’ and ‘Ermo’ Essay (Movie Review)

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Updated: Jun 26th, 2019


The two films ‘The Story of Qiu Ju’ (1992) and ‘Ermo’ (1994) are films that were produced in order to show the viewers some of the social changes and practices in the Chinese society. The Chinese society during Mao era had a completely different social arrangement and practices compared to the new (present) era thanks to westernization.

The effects of westernization are clearly indicated in the films, this is when the roles of the Chinese women have completely changed, women are completely empowered from being the cooks, children mentors, the sole providers and protectors of the family, a role that was held and maintained by the men for a long time (Eberts, 1993).

Chinese among other people from different parts of the world have been male chauvinists; they only considered the women role in the society as people who continue the linage of the family by giving birth, taking care and raising children among other activities like digging, cooking, receiving orders from the men and also fulfilling the sexual urge of the men.

The position of women in the society was in the kitchen and thus they were not supposed to be seen or even heard performing any duty in the social field or gathering, the women were supposed to be very submissive to their husbands and not to take up any roles that will lower the dignity of their husbands, that is why women were being mentored at an early stage in order to become responsible women who will properly fulfill their duties when they get married.

But this has all changed in the two films; this is clearly depicted as the films have clearly shown two different women holding two key roles which are completely against the Chinese traditions.

The similarities in character between the two female protagonists

After watching the two movies, it was easy for me to come up with a clear conclusion that, the writers and directors of these two films had one similar theme, women empowerment in mind while producing and writing the script of these films. Though it can appear to be a coincident, they have completed and covered one task that proves to be very crucial in the revolutionalizing of the Chinese society that was in the past very strict on women.

The two directors used women to play the leading role in both the films and the results of the women participation, has yielded positive results in the transformation of the Chinese society, from that of the male chauvinist (Dominated) society to a more lenient society that acknowledged and appreciated the role and participations of the women in the development of the society (Xiaowen, 1994).

The two women characters namely Qiu Ju in the film ‘The Story of Qiu Ju’ and Ermo in the film ‘Ermo’, are both seen and considered to be courageous women. This is properly highlighted in the two films. In The film The Story of Qiu Ju, Qiu Ju is seen to get out of the shell that she is engulfed in (Womanhood) therefore she seeks for the justice for her injured husband (Liu Pei Qi) who was injured by one of the village elders (Lei Lao Sheng).

The injury of her husband who was the sole bread winner and provider of the family makes Qiu Ju life very difficult, the injury of her husband occurs when Qiu Ju is pregnant this automatically makes her the provider of the family since the husband could not go to work (Eberts, 1993).

Her courageous nature is depicted when she goes to the political leader who injured her husband to seek for his apology but he refuses, this action astonishes her and thus swears that she is going to seek for legal actions against him, thus ensure that her husband is compensated.

While in the film ‘Ermo’, Ermo is courageous as she is the one taking care of her ailing husband and young son. She does this after enduring the challenges of living in a poor state thus decides to start selling noodles in order to support her family; the film also indicated her courageousness when she moved into the city in order to increase her sales (Xiaowen, 1994).

The women are determined. Incidents of determination of the women in the two films are clearly portrayed. Qiu Ju is very determined in ensuring that justice is delivered to her ailing husband, despite the several challenges of bureaucracy that she encounters in the Chinese judicial system.

She does not give up and is willing to pursue the case to the end in order to ensure that the judicial system grants her husband with the proper judgment (Eberts, 1993). While in the film ‘Ermo’, Ermo is very much determined in ensuring that her family is in a position of living a modern life (Xiaowen, 1994).

This is clearly portrayed when she takes good care of her family and also is determined to save enough money that will ensure that she buys the most sophisticated TV set in the entire village compared to the one Xiazi her business neighbor possesses.

The women are desperate. The films show how both the women are desperate. In the film ‘The Story of Qiu Ju’, Qiu Ju is desperate for the apology from the political leader to her husband and at the same time she is desperate for justice to be accorded to her husband, this is portrayed from the constant trips that she made to and from the court in order for her case to be heard. The cases of bureaucracy denied her the proper justice (Eberts, 1993).

The same applies to Ermo, where she is desperate to give her family high standard of living. This is when she had to move to the city in order to sell her noodles so that she could be able to buy a TV set as well as afford her husband medication (Xiaowen, 1994).

The differences in character between the two female protagonists

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 (Eberts, 1993).

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 (Xiaowen, 1994).

The other characteristic difference between Qiu Ju and Ermo is sexual immorality. In the film ‘The Story of Qiu Ju’ the protagonist Qiu Ju has been portrayed to be a morally upright woman, while Ermo is depicted as being sexually immoral woman (Eberts, 1993).

The film ‘Story of Qiu Ju’ has no any incidence where Qiu Ju was intimate with any other man other than her husband even when she was expected to do such as in the case where she is faced with bureaucracy in the courts. On the other hand, the film Ermo, protagonist is intimate with Blindman despite them being business partners and married individuals. Ermo did this as a way of getting some favors from Blindman and at the same time annoying Blindman’s wife (Xiaowen, 1994).


In conclusion the directors have used the two women Qiu Ju and Ermo to tell the Chinese society that both women and men are equally important in the society thus emphasizing that there is no specific role assigned to the women or men.

The successes of these women in fulfilling there ambitions has clearly indicated that women can also take leading roles in the society; this is when Qiu Ju attains justice for her husband despite her challenges throughout the film while Ermo manages to buy herself the biggest TV set that has made her husband receive the respect that he had when he was a chief during the Mao regime.


Eberts, R. (1993). The Story of Qiu Ju. Chicago Sun Times. Retrieved from

Xiaowen, Z. (1994). Chinese Cinema (223) Lecture Notes: ‘Ermo’. Web.

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1. IvyPanda. "The two films ‘The Story of Qiu Ju’ and ‘Ermo’." June 26, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/the-two-films-the-story-of-qiu-ju-and-ermo/.


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IvyPanda. 2019. "The two films ‘The Story of Qiu Ju’ and ‘Ermo’." June 26, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/the-two-films-the-story-of-qiu-ju-and-ermo/.


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