Ju Dou (1990) poster
7.7
Your Rating: 0/10
Ratings: 7.7/10 from 136 users
# of Watchers: 267
Reviews: 1 user
Ranked #80529
Popularity #16243
Watchers 136

A woman married to the brutal and infertile owner of a dye mill in rural China in the 1920s conceives a boy with her husband's nephew but is forced to raise her son as her husband's heir without revealing his parentage in this circular tragedy. (Source: Letterboxd) Edit Translation

  • English
  • magyar / magyar nyelv
  • dansk
  • Norsk
  • Country: China
  • Type: Movie
  • Release Date: 1990
  • Duration: 1 hr. 35 min.
  • Score: 7.7 (scored by 136 users)
  • Ranked: #80529
  • Popularity: #16243
  • Content Rating: Not Yet Rated

Cast & Credits

Photos

Ju Dou (1990) photo
Ju Dou (1990) photo
Ju Dou (1990) photo
Ju Dou (1990) photo
Ju Dou (1990) photo
Ju Dou (1990) photo

Reviews

Completed
The Butterfly
4 people found this review helpful
Mar 1, 2024
Completed 0
Overall 7.5
Story 7.0
Acting/Cast 8.0
Music 7.0
Rewatch Value 8.0

"The worst is behind us"

Ju Dou was a disturbing story set in 1920’s China based on the novel Fuxi, Fuxi. This was the third collaboration for Zhang Yi Mou and Gong Li. The film was banned until 1992, for what reason I never did figure out. Too risqué? Infidelity? Rage against the patriarchy and sexism? Political allegory? Whatever the reason, it was still nominated for Best Foreign Language Film at the 1991 Academy Awards. Though aesthetically stunning, the story could be difficult to watch.

Tian Qing arrives at his adopted uncle’s cloth dyeing operation as the only other employee is quitting. The employee basically tells Tian Qing, “You’ll be sorry!” The uncle is cheap, abusive, and has tortured two wives to death and is working on his third. The new wife, Ju Dou, was a bought and paid for laborer and potential baby maker. Her major obstacle to becoming pregnant is that her husband is not only a vicious tyrant, but infertile as well. Tian Qing has a peep hole in the barn where he watches Ju Dou bathe at night, but it turns from sexual to bitterly realistic one night when he sees her bruise covered body. Fearing she’ll be murdered soon, Ju Dou seduces Tian Qing while her husband is away. She seems to be saved when she becomes pregnant, but there is no way a story set in 1920’s China is going to allow her and Tian Qing to walk away unscathed.

As usual, Zhang Yi Mou brought out his palette and soaked the screen in vibrant hues. Dark lonely nights were bathed in indigo. Sexual arousal was accompanied by flowing bolts of crimson silk unloosed as well as the hammering of the machine. The mountains, fields and trees provided bucolic backdrops. Flames of desire, murderous heat, and the destructive combustion of inevitability licked and leapt throughout the film. Aside from the scenery and sets, Gong Li had a beauty all her own. She superbly conveyed the fear and determination of a cornered woman trying to survive and find a modicum of joy in her life. Li Bao Tian as Tian Qing was given the difficult job of bringing the slow, cowardly nephew to life. Different children played Tian Bai as he aged. Tian Bai rarely spoke, but this menacing child will send chills up your spine.

Ju Dou demonstrated the plight of a poor woman in this time frame. Ju Dou was trapped in a marriage to a merciless man and also forced to work as unpaid labor. Despite all the talk of the Yang family reputation, no one stopped Jin Shan from marrying a third wife after killing the previous two. Tian Qing was trapped working for his miserly uncle and impotent to help Ju Dou both financially and emotionally. Widows weren’t allowed to remarry and even without a blood tie, an aunt couldn’t marry a nephew. Tradition had a stranglehold on Ju Dou with almost no way for her to extricate herself.

Revenge, fatal passion, toxic patriarchy, loneliness, and a kid straight from a horror movie---Ju Dou was an intense and unrelenting film. Oh, and people dyed-more than just a pun! Yet even with Zhang Yi Mou’s technicolor designs and Gong Li’s presence there was something missing. For me, part of the problem was Tian Qing’s passiveness and also the ending took a burn it all down approach. Ju Dou was good enough that I’ve watched it twice. Whether I have the tint-rest to do it in the future remains to be seen.

"Here we are at the village Wang
So many dogs…here they come
They attack us but we can’t run, so we go home"

29 February 2024

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Details

  • Movie: Ju Dou
  • Country: China
  • Release Date: 1990
  • Duration: 1 hr. 35 min.
  • Content Rating: Not Yet Rated

Statistics

  • Score: 7.7 (scored by 136 users)
  • Ranked: #80529
  • Popularity: #16243
  • Watchers: 267

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