Wooden Man's Bride Film Analysis

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Media and Social Development in China since 1949 Term Paper

Discuss and examine the female position in the film Wooden Man’s Bride [五魁] (a.k.a Checking the Body) based on the social context during the period

Lydia Wong Man Ching 201214327H

2015/5/12

Introduction
Acknowledged as one of the most renowned Fifth Generation filmmakers in China alongside Zhang Yi Mou and his other contemporaries, director Huang Jian Xin excels in giving a feminine spectacle in The Wooden Man’s Bride , which delves into the world of Confucian patriarchy in feudal China. The portrayal of women’s flight and aesthetic flairs in the film are highly reminiscent of Zhang’s acknowledged classics such as Raise the Red Lantern and Ju Dou , yet by placing the story
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In compliance of those rigid feudal ideas that accentuates female subordination, Madam Liu emerges as the prime antagonist despite of the outlaws, making herself a sharp opposite to Young Mistress, her wilful daughter-in-law. Madame Liu practices matriarchy in the household, and the indisputable power she possesses is evident by her absolute control on the life and death of Young Mistress. It is her who proceeds the wedding, calls for a chastity test and decides the form of punishment endorsed on Young Mistress . With a closer speculation however, Madame Liu derives her power from maintaining the status quo of male privilege. She practises chastity after her husband’s death personally, and goes further to consolidate her power by passing her own distress on her daughter-in-law, saying: “fame is the noblest of all possessions in life” ([人過留名,雁過留聲。我守了二十多年的寡,也是從苦水裏熬出來的]). In this perspective, underpinned by Deniz Kandiyoti’s 1988 work “Bargaining with Patriarchy” , Madame’ Liu’s eagerness for reputation is added with more content when we see her as a victim of feudal ideology. She has lost her husband, and a son to count onto, little wonder she perceives Young mistress as her ultimate export for distress, and thus feels the need to secure her loyalty to the Liu’s by

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