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How Much Is This Film About Women's Issues And How Much Is It An Analysis Of The Communist Revolution Itself And The Role Of The Intellectual In Changing China?

2492 words - 10 pages

The film 'Yellow Earth", directed by Chen Kaige is based on a book called 'Echo in the Dark Valley' by Ke Lan and depicts the story of a communist comrade, Gu Qing who is visiting Lin Village in the Shaanxi province to learn folk songs to teach the 8th route army to sing while marching. On this visit he lives in a poor peasant family's home and during his stay there, he talks of a different, more promising life that the south has already come to know and which he believes the north must come to experience, too. Cuiqiao, a girl probably in her teens, is taken up by this kind of life where girls and women don't seem to be suffering the way she has to and can join the army, marry who they want and also work in the fields. Cuiqiao's mother is dead and she lives with her father and her younger brother, Hanhan. Her elder sister was already married when she was very young.This film touches on two very important issues. Firstly, it depicts the subdued and subjugated life the women in the northern provinces of China had to live and secondly, it illustrates the deprived existence of peasants of these regions and shows what Communism really had to offer. The film effectively uses song to communicate suffering and these take on gloomy, depressing and mournful tones.The film starts with a wedding procession in the desolate and dry valley near Lin Village. The acute poverty of the peasants is manifest in the serving of wooden fish. Even here it is evident that mostly men are performing all the important functions and conducting the ceremonies. When the bride is revealed, she is just a little girl. Cuiqiao, who is attending the wedding, watches quietly and sadly and appears to be frightened; later it is revealed that she too has been promised in marriage to an older man ever since she was a child and it is this fate she dreads while she watches the procession.Cuiqiao's job is to fill and carry water from the river to her home, which is three miles away, while her father and brother work in the fields. Here at the river, she sings a song about how a girl's life is the "most pitiable". When she gets home, Gu has just arrived and is sitting with her father. He is to live with them during his stay. They discuss the previous days wedding and Gu, having more revolutionary notions of a woman's position, expresses surprise at how young the bride was and tells them it's different in the south, where girls there got married on their own. Cuiqiao's father says that the bride was almost fourteen and "more than a child" and remarks that "girls must be worthless if they can just get up and go with a man". When talking and around her father and Gu, Cuiqiao's head is bowed at all times. That night, when everyone had gone to bed and while she was weaving, Cuiqiao again bursts into a doleful song about a woman's suffering and how she could speak to no one about her "bitterness and hardships". The next morning, Gu tells her about how women in the south "work in the fields and...

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