Tuesday, 4 September 2007

Ermo (1994)

Ermo (1994)This movie and The Story of Qiu Ju have more things in common than you can poke your stick at. Let's not waste a moment longer and make a list IMMEDIATELY (I list to make love - oops - I meant I love to make list):

1. Both stories are set against the backdrop of China's countryside. As Chinese art-house/social dramas are into addressing social issues, the Chinese countryside/hinterland is where many glaring socioeconomic problems arise. Some of the best directors in China like Zhang Yimou, Li Yang, etc, belonged in this camp.

2. Both are art-house films that uses social realism. I.e. Street scenes and people are real - aka unpaid extras. They lend authenticity to the movies. Although Qiu Ju sheds more light on the rural lives.

3. Both are comedy drama. In the scheme of things, their social/political problems are minor ones.

4. Liu Peigi played the main male leads - the husbands - in both. Only in Qiu Ju, he's less pro-active, and talkative. Being kicked in the balls has something to do with it. I say.

5. Both heroines are housewives playing the lead and title roles. This should count as 3 similarities? Never mind, l give my loyal readers a 66.666% discount for old time sake (aka readers loyalty program).

6. Both heroines are very determined characters to the point of stubborn. I love to hire them as my CEO if I have a company (if only). They're go getter. Once their goals are set, nothing will waver them from achieving that goals. Nothing! You don't want to be their enemies. No sire bob!

7. Most importantly, as usual, Chinese art-house/social drama films are dealing with social problem in China - in both of these cases, the issues of FACE. Let's face it, 'face' - like 'love', 'hate', and 'debt' - is a 4 letters word.

In Qiu Ju, if the village head simply apologises to our heroine, the movie finishes in 15 mins. But no bloody way. Such action would mean a loss of face. We can't have that. A big time official like a village head can't possibly stoop so low as to apologise to a lowly village woman! Please, get real !!!

And our heroine simply can't let go without an apology. The village Head keeps increasing his monetary compensation (instead of a simple verbal apology), but she won't budge. Or borrowing a Chinese expression, "she doesn't give face". It's a matter of principle. No face giving (不給面子) !

In this movie, the face of a family is measured and proportional to the size of the face of TV. If her TV has the biggest face, she has the biggest face. It's all very logical and mathematical. There's nothing irrational at all that I can see. Not at all. It makes perfect sense.

Our heroine sells noodles to save enough money for the the biggest TV in the village. Chinese word for 'noodle' is 麵, which is formed by combining the word 'wheat' (麥) and the word 'face' (面), interestingly enough. And they pronounce the same ('mian'. Coincidentally applicable both in Cantonese and Mandarin). So a Chinese joke would be that our heroine sells mian to get mian. Get it? I loik it. I loik it aloit.

8. In the end - ahhh - nope, I'd better not spoiling the ending. Let just say, I can see parallels in the 2 endings as well.

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