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The gripping 1934 film Plunder of Peach and Plum is about two lovers, Tao and Li, who have just wed and are looking for work in Shanghai. Tao gets employed by a shipping company, but he later resigns from his position out of concern for his safety because the employer was flouting safety regulations. Later, he accepts a position at a metal factory. His wife Li works as a secretary, but she leaves the position after her boss Zhou tricks her into a hotel and almost rapes her. Li becomes unwell and falls down the stairs after their child is born. She later dies after Tao fails to get money for her treatment. Suzhou River(2000) is a film about Meimei a dancer in a club, her primary purpose in the club was to wear a mermaid tail and display her dance moves in a glass tank and entertain the viewers. Meimei had a secret admirer known as a Mardar. He was an x-convict and recently became a motorcycle courier in Shanghai. Mardar’s admiration was not genuine since he was hired by a crook dealing with contrabands to look for his daughter who looks a like Meimei very much.
Discussion on Corruption and Sexual Harassment in Plunder of Peach and Plum 1934
In the film, Plunder of Peach and Plum, (1934) I address the issues of corruption and the massive scale of injustices in the community. It has caused the dream of two well-educated people Tao and Li, with big dreams of working in their dream jobs for the betterment and improvement of their society to be broken. My interpretation to this vice, is that corruption is causing unfairness to many people in the society even to people who deserves these opportunities. At the end of it all, it seems right according to the film to say that money is power. My argument is supported by (Andrew) in chapter 7, where he observes how Tao and Li are going through a lot of problems in life, from poor jobs, lifestyle and even lack of money for medication (82). Sexual Harassment is another theme or topic I viewed in both the films Plunder of Peach and Plum and Suzhou River. Li, Tao`s wife, and Meimei are the main females used in both films to bring out the theme of illegal sexual advances. For instance, Li`s boss tries to take advantage of her by tricking her into a hotel room and almost rapes her. Male thought of superiority is what I can interpret from this action. This is supported by (Xiao) in chapter 2 where he shows how her boss is attracted by the beautiful looks portrayed by Li, and thought he could take advantage because she was a woman, and most of all, he felt he had power over her, since, he is her boss.” Women in the society should not be under looked and most of all should be given equal opportunities” (19).
Andrew, Dudley. “Encounter: Interview with Jia Zhangke,” Film Quarterly 62.4 (2009): 80-83.
Lu, Xiaoning. (2008), “Zhang Ruifang: Modeling the Socialist Red Star.” Journal of Chinese Cinemas 2.2 (2008): 113–122.
Discussion on Idealism and Love in Suzhou River(2000)
Idealism is the attitude or believes a person has, where he/she convinces himself/herself that it is possible to live according to the required standards of honesty and behavior in the society. To this end, Meimei, once she falls in love with Mardar, is convinced that he will not betray her. Upon learning that he was in fact involved in her kidnapping, she opts to kill herself rather than live in that reality. This evidently displays the theme of idealism wherein the Meimei considers that the termination of her own life, and by extension death, is a far better condition than a world where there is no loyalty among those in love. My interpretation to this is that, “love is a very powerful feeling or emotion”. Most times people say “love is blind”. In the film, the theme of love is evident when Meimei falls in love with Mardar. After she is kidnapped, she feels betrayed by him and throws herself in the Suzhou River. “Suzhou is used as a metaphor the new China to integrate the old China”. Inherent to the concept of love is the obligation to each other, a fact in which Meimei expects Mardar to take care of her and fight for her wellbeing instead of just following his boss’s orders. Mardar in the film Suzhou sRiver is also a victim of this theme as I observed. He fakes his admiration for Meimei which causes Meimei to fall in love with him, but later we get to know that Mardar was hired by a famous crook to find his missing daughter who was a look-alike of Meimei. My interpretation to this is that, it is always difficult to run away from our own past. Mardar proves this quote that states “once a criminal, always a criminal”. My argument is supported by (Xiao) in chapter 4 where he shows how Mardar is hired to kidnaps Meimei despite being an ex-convict. (83). Meimei realizes the true colors of the person she fell in love with. Mardar`s character also remains the same even after being released from prison. I believed people change bt some do not at all.
Film and theater has continued to wow critiques and audiences everywhere over the course of time. Suzhou River(2000) and Plunder of Peach and Plum are testaments to this. Embodying such significant themes and motifs as corruption and its detrimental effect on the citizens of a nation, the evidence and occurrence of sexual harrassment in the modern day work environment, the theme of love that permeates through most literary works, and the motif of idealism. As the audience experiences the films, they are made aware of a myriad of difficult macro environmental factors that challenge young persons in asia particularly in an economically and ethically dystopian setting. Both China-based films were produced for various purposes, for instance, to show the evils and problems that the society is facing or problems people are going experiencing. They also try to demonstrate to the viewer that at times, we don’t determine our future or fate.
Braester, Yomi. “Chinese Cinema in the Age of Advertisement: The Filmmaker as a Cultural Broker.” China Quarterly 183 (2005): 549-564.
Xiao, Jiwei. “The Quest for Memory: Documentary and Fiction in Jia Zhangke’s Films.” Senses of Cinema 59 (June 2011).
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