Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Ermo Essay

Ermo, directed by Zhou Xiaowen in 1994, takes place in the 1980’s when China first began to actively accept the concept of globalization. â€Å"Ermo, where the title character as the strong-willed wife of an emasculated husband† (Tang 654), explores the issues of being a matriarch as well as an individual with her own interests and desires. Compared with traditional Chinese women who were relegated to taking care of the household, Ermo is drastically different because she is the one who attends to the financial needs of her family by selling twisty noodles. Although she is a poor, peasant woman whose life revolves around the responsibilities of taking care of of her family, Ermo harbors secret ambitions which she longs to someday achieve. Fueled by her ambitions, Ermo works day and night to fulfill her aims even as she attends to her loved one’s needs. Her characteristic as responsible matriarch can also be seen when she risks her health by selling large quantities of her blood in order to earn quick money. In the film, every action that Ermo takes is a result of her free will; she is not forced or coerced to do so. Everything that she does, she does for the love of her family. The female lead in the movie is willing to do anything to support her family, which is a marked characteristic of contemporary Chinese films. The role of Ermo is a strong departure from the traditional roles of women in Chinese society. Ermo’s profession is examined in two ways: Noodle seller during the day and noodle maker during the night. In the very beginning of the film, the shot shows her as a noodle-seller on the street, peddling bunches of twisty noodles that she herself made. She yells â€Å"mai mahua mian lou† (twisty noodle for sale) (Ciecko 2) constantly. This scene particularly emphasizes her profession and skills for selling twisty noodles. There are also several close-up shots of her foot while she is making noodle dough. Ermo kneads flour with her feet, and she does it expertly, never dropping any of flour. This shot makes a statement as to the technical skills her work requires and the passion and dedication with which Ermo does her job. While generally regarded as a lowly job, it is actually a very demanding job requiring sophisticated skills. The opportunity to pursue a rewarding career among Chinese women is a fairly recent development because the women in China never had the opportunity to choose their job. Ermo’s desire can be read in various ways: desire for a better life, desire for a fulfilling sexual relationship, and desire for self-determination. Ermo’s â€Å"wish for a new life with a [Blindman, the richest guy in the town] after an amorous night halfway between town and village, expresses her desire to desire and constitutes an inspired revision of reality† (Tang, 668). This satisfies both her sexual desire and desire for better life. She also desires for having the biggest TV in her town, which at first may seem materialistic, but may actually be construed for her need to achieve and be acknowledged for her accomplishments. Although she says that she needs to buy the TV for her son so that he does not have to go to their neighbor’s house to watch, it is really her own aspiration to show people who she really is. Based on strong Confucian society, Chinese women have been traditionally relegated to the sidelines, but as China begins to open itself to changes, so do Chinese women begin to evolve and come out into their own. As examined above, â€Å"the central events in Ermo reflect a new stage in the development of contemporary Chinese society† (Tang, 663). As portrayed in this modern Chinese film, women are able to attend to their family without necessarily having to sacrifice their own dreams and ambitions in the process.

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