Yellow Earth Essay, Research Paper
Yellow Earth (1984)
Original Title: Huang Tu Di
Cinematography: Zhang Yimou
Yellow Earth is a tragic movie. The main character, Young Cuiqiao, was destined by fate to be married to a man she has never met. Also, the vast landscape of her village seems to entrap her. The hills are like dry walls that plaster has been peeling off of for centuries. The only thing that seems to have some life source in it is the river that Cuiqiao sings her folk songs in when she collects water from it everyday.
The movie begins with a wedding. There, the director introduces us with different shots of the aspects of society at that time. It was very interesting to see how the whole village gathered together for the wedding celebration. There were also close-up shots of the different foods that were served. The beginning of the movie was a very good introduction to the Chinese culture.
Later on in the movie, there is a discussion between Cuiqiao s father and Brother Gu, a soldier from the communist army, about the wedding. It is revealed that the girl that married was almost fourteen years old and the ninth daughter to be married off in that family. This was extremely shocking to me mainly because I live in a modern western society. First of all, the very thought of being married at such a young age is completely absurd to me. This child is forced to take the role of an adult at such an early age. Moreover, she must have been married to a man that is no younger than thirty years of age. Brother Gu makes a statement saying that the girl was too young to be married and that girls should choose their own match. Cuiqiao s father, rather surprised, replies that she was not young at all. In fact, in disbelief he says, No matchmaker? A woman is worthless to just leave with a man. The soldier then says, Girls are not for sale and the south has changed. But Cuiqiao s father replies that the farmers haven t changed and they have their own rules. This exchange shows the viewer the clash of the cultural traditions of northern China with the newly formed communist government. This scene in the movie also nicely foreshadows Cuiqiao s fate.
Going back to Brother Gu, we are first introduced to him at the wedding. He is a soldier from Yan an that comes to the Shaanxi province to collect folk songs. He stays with Cuiqiao s family for the time he is there. He opens Cuiqiao s eyes to the changes in the south. He tells her of the women who work in the fields, who cut their hair short and fight the Japanese alongside the men. This stirs up her interest but she is afraid to show it to Brother Gu.
One of the funnier moments in the movie was when Cuiqiao finds Brother Gu sewing. She asks, Can men sew too? . It was very funny to experience her disbelief in seeing a man sew. I would experience that kind of disbelief if I saw Brother Gu growing a second head.
Another aspect of the movie that was very interesting was the part when the whole village of men and boys came together to pray for the Dragon King to send rain for the crops. They all wore the same special costume for this event. All of these people were on their bare knees praying for their yellow earth to flourish so their crops can grow. There is an awesome qi that flows through the earth and that earth is everything to these farmers. There is even a line in the movie that states, Love depends on grain.
Finally, the time for Brother Gu to leave has come. Cuiqiao, who is now engaged to a man she has never met, wants to leave with Gu to escape her sisters fate of a marriage of abuse and sadness. But he cannot take Cuiqiao because he needs permission from the army. She makes him promise he will come back for her. As time goes by, and no word from Brother Gu, she gets desperate as it nears her wedding date. She decides to take her fate into her own hands and sails off in the river to find Yan an and the army. Ironically there is a song in the end that states that it is the communists who save people. After Cuiqiao s eyes of what could be, Brother Gu couldn t even save her from her own fate.
All in all, the movie is a sad one but it shows a good picture of communism, Chinese culture, and the plight of women at that time. I found myself enjoying the movie very much. It wasn t at all boring, it was in color, and it didn t drag on but still made a strong point in the end.