Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|The Story of Qiu Ju|
Actors: Li Gong, Peiqi Liu, Liuchun Yang, Kesheng Lei, Zhijun Ge
Director: Yimou Zhang
Genres: Indie & Art House, Comedy, Drama
An ordinary but courageous woman in a small chinese village fights against the system in her quest for justice. Studio: Sony Pictures Home Ent Release Date: 04/24/2007 Starring: Gong Li Run time: 100 minutes Rating: Pg
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A parable of modern China
Dennis Littrell | SoCal | 02/06/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is a story about saving face and winning face, and what can happen if you carry things too far. Gong Li stars as Qiu Ju, a peasant woman with child whose husband is kicked in the groin by the local chief. She wants an apology. The chief of course will not apologize since he would then lose face. Both are stubborn and obstinate. Proud and determined, Qiu Ju steers her way through the bureaucracy from the village to the district to the city; but the thing she desires, an apology from the chief, eludes her. He cannot apologize because he has only sired daughters. He has license (he believes in his heart) because he was insulted by her husband who said he raised "only hens." The Chinese locales, from village roads to big city avenues are presented with stunning clarity so that the color and the sense of life is vivid and compelling. Director Zhang Yimou. forces us to see. From the opening shot of the mass of people in the city walking toward us (out of which emerges Qiu Ju) to the feast celebrating the child's first month of life near the end, we feel the humanity of the great mass of the Chinese people.In a sense this is a gentle satire of the bureaucratic state that modern China has become. But Zhang Yimou emphasizes the bounty of China and not its poverty. There is a sense of abundance with the corn drying in the eaves, the sheets of dough being cut into noodles, the fat cows on the roads and the bright red chili drying in the sun. There is snow on the ground and the roads are unpaved, but there is an idyllic feeling of warmth emanating from the people. One gets the idea that fairness and tolerance will prevail.In another sense, this is a parable about the price of things and how that differs from what is really of value. So often is price mentioned in the movie that I can tell you that a yuan at the time of the movie was worth about a dollar in its buying power. (Four and a half yuan for a "pound" of chili; five yuan as a fair price for a short cab ride; twenty yuan for a legal letter.) Getting justice in the strict sense is what Qiu Ju demands. Her affable husband would settle for a lot less. He is the wiser of the two. Notice how Qiu Ju is acutely sensitive to price. She bargains well and avoids most of the rip offs of the big city. But what is the value of being a member of the community? This is a lesson she needs to learn, and, as the movie ends, she does."
Yimou's Most Thoughtful Film
Rand Higbee | Hager City, WI United States | 02/23/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Zhang Yimou's "The Story of Qiu Ju" is not a masterpiece as is his film "Raise the Red Lantern." It doesn't have the epic qualities of "To Live" nor is it as visually stunning as "The Road Home." But "Qiu Ju" may well be Yimou's most thought provoking film, leaving you pondering the messages a long time after the film has ended.Qiu Ju's husband has been kicked ("where it counts") by the village chief. The only bit of justice Qiu Ju wants is an apology. It seems to be a simple enough request, but her search for the apology proves to be elusive as she encounters a legal system more interested in its own red tape than in the needs of ordinary people.But this is not "Erin Brockovich" where the sides of "good" and "bad" are easily defined. The people in the legal system Qiu Ju encounters are genuinely decent folks. They are also, unfortunately, a bit clueless. And Qiu Ju is not beyond reproach herself. At the conclusion of the film even she is realizing that she has pushed the matter too far.Just how far should one go to seek justice in this world? Even if you are totally in the right, does there come a time when you must let the matter rest for your own sake as well as everybody else's? There are no easy answers.This is another great performance by Gong Li in the title role. She may be one of the most beautiful women in the world, but here she is not above playing "dowdy." And as usual, Zhang Yimou is nearly flawless in his direction. He gives a wonderful tip of the hat to the late French director Francois Truffaut in the end, echoing that famous final shot of Truffaut's "The 400 Blows."But this is a film that will stick with you well past that last shot."
The changing face of China
James Gebhardt | Stamford, CT | 09/26/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I have to be honest. When I read the Amazon mini-review of this film, I was doubtful as to whether or not this would be my type of film. I'm not even sure why but I just had a feeling. Well, all of my fears quickly dissipated within the first fifteen minutes or so. I quickly became engrossed in this wry little comedy-drama import. Lurking within the guise of a simple drama is a carefully sculpted story of one woman's single-minded mission to acquire satisfaction and justice on behalf of her injured husband.
Let me give you a little background first. The film opens with a very pregnant Qiu Ju (played by the brilliant Gong Li) pulling some sort of wagon into town. As it turns out, Qiu Ju (with the help of her sister-in-law, Meizi) is transporting her injured husband, Qinglai to the local doctor for emergency treatment. It is eventually revealed that the husband has suffered an embarrassing injury to his "oh so private area" as a result of an argument culminating in an well-placed kick from the village chieftain. Conflict immediately arises from the fact that she sees her husband as being injured, not only physically but, emotionally and spiritually as well. Her laid-back husband, on the other hand, is not as wounded as Qiu Ju would care to believe. He's happier to just move on and let bygones be bygones. This is unsatisfactory for wife, Qiu Ju who proceeds to set into motion an almost comedic series of events ultimately leading to a conclusion that she never anticipated. On its most basic level, this film is a modern day parable that explores the gray area between seeking justice and exacting revenge. It is a cautionary tale as well since it shows that justice is not an absolute. In fact, justice can be a somewhat intangible concept - something that needs to be defined by the human experience. In other words, one person's injustice can be another person's justice. Unfortunately, Qiu Ju lives in a world of black and white. Her simple life and simplistic approach to life affords her no latitude in this matter. As she gradually escalates her grievance upwardly from village, to town, to district, all the way to the big city, her black and white world becomes increasingly grayer. Although her intentions are pure at heart, she fails to see the shortsightedness of her actions. Her myopic view of the world ultimately leads to her downfall. What I find fascinating about this is director Zhang Yimou's ability to tell such a seemingly tragic tale within the framework of a comedy. He does this by telling the story in a most gentle fashion with the most delicate of narrative style.
Along the way, the viewer is rewarded with a glimpse into the ever-changing face of mainland China. As Qiu Ju travels from station to station we see the socioeconomic strata of China laid bare as if it were an archeological expedition. I immediately grasped the notion that the heart of China lay in its people. China's true legacy is not The Great Wall nor the Forbidden City. Rather, it is its people and I think this was the intent of the director. Throughout the film, Qiu Ju seems as if she were awash in a sea of humanity. At times, it seems comforting and at others ... frightening. Nonetheless, she moves forward in her mission undeterred. I also think that it was the intent of the director to expose the daunting bureaucratic nightmare that is the Chinese government. A draconian government that has lost sight of the very people that it is meant to serve. So, in a way, the film is an amalgam of comedy, drama and political satire.
The tempo of the film is deliberatly slow-paced not unlike Qiu Ju herself. I have a feeling that her brain also processes her experiences at the same exacting rate. The performances are genuine with much attention given to the dialogue. We see that although the Village Chief is in the wrong, he's really not a bad guy. He's stubborn, proud and indignant. We see that although the husband has been wronged, he's not entirely innocent either and must bear some responsibility for what has happened. That is, if he hadn't said what he had said to the Village Chief ... maybe none of this would've happened. This is what simple Qiu Ju fails to understand. People and situations cannot always be easily classified as either "right" or "wrong". Life is unfortunately more complex and convoluted than she would be willing to accept. As noble as it might seem to hold steadfastly to an ideal, the greater good sometimes arises from recognizing and accepting our own imperfect condition. The film is full of good people, bad people and a lot of people in-between. Although the film takes place in China, there is a sense that it could be just about anywhere in the world since the struggles contained within are so universal in nature. Zhang Yimou is very good at conveying the notion that people are the same wherever you go. I believe that and I think that is why I was so immediately drawn into this story. The film ends with a most poignant moment of self-realitization for Qiu Ju. In keeping within the framework of a parable, sweet Qiu Ju, while so intent on teaching society a lesson ends up being the one who is taught a lesson ... and a very important one at that. I could tell you what it is but, you would be better served by seeing for yourself!"
Like a Documentary
Jay | Tacoma, WA United States | 08/04/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"If you are looking for action or high romance, this isn't the film for you. But if you are looking for a simple story that for me played out more like a documentary than a story line for a movie I think you will enjoy it. The rural scenes and settings are real. The village, journeys and settings are all real China, not a Hollywood set. And the background actors are incredibly real people who don't work for screen actors guild. For the person who thought the story couldn't be reality, have you lived under the Chinese communist system?
Having studied communism, visited both China and the Soviet Union in the early 1980's and spent a year in Korea during the war, I find this movie to be a startlingly realistic comparison of the rural way of life in China contrasted with a relatively modern city life and bureaucracy that the average Chinese peasant rarely if ever sees. The story is cute, realistic, and has some very subtle humor mixed in, and has an ending that is more rapid and somewhat more unexpected than the preceding story. Of course it doesn't hurt that Gong Li, my favorite Chinese actress, does a great acting job either.
To think that this movie, which pokes fun at the communist system, was made and released in China is even more remarkable.