Film 316 in the ‘1001 Films to See Before You Die’ challenge is 1934’s ‘Shen Nu’. Or as it’s known in English, “The Goddess”. However, Shen Nu is also slang for “Prostitute”. That’s the fact of the film. Directed by Wu Yonggang, this Chinese silent drama is about a mother, who works as a prostitute, who fights to get her young son an education amid criminal and social injustice in China. I’m not quite sure where to start with this one. Let’s start with the fact that no one in this film has any names. As soon as the film starts we are told that the main character is simply known as Goddess. No other name. Problem is that there are two other main characters in this film and neither of them have names. We have her son which is easy enough to figure out. Then you have this fat man who is constantly laughing at everything. And I mean everything. From walking through doors to sitting in chairs. I ended up calling him ‘Laughing Fat Man’ because of it. At no point do we know why he keeps seeing her. We see the two bump into each other and share cigarettes one night but apart from that… NOTHING!!! Does he think that because he’s paid to have sex with her that he now owns her? Does he think that he paid more than he wanted to hence why he keeps visiting her looking for money? He’s clearly not her husband as we are told that he died years ago. That’s all we know about the father. All you are doing throughout this film is watch a mother look after her son until she realises Laughing Fat Man has what he wanted (money). One other thing I want to talk about are the lyrics to the song the child sings at the talent show. The lyrics are, “The dawn is calling, The dusk is calling, The dusk is calling, For a special edition, Called the night is falling. At a tender young age, The voice is full and bright, The remains of the morning, Crumble away in the moonlight. The streets are ringing, The alleys are singing, The fishmongers’ yells are fading, But the raucous is growing, All I know is that my mom and dad are so old, The work all day but still hold an empty rice bowl”. As someone who isn’t a musician but is friends with many who are, can someone tell me if these lyrics are good or bad. Overall, I wouldn’t recommend this. I found the film to be dull, boring and very repetitive in the middle of the film. If you have seen this film then let me know what you thought of it in the comments. Here is what I had to say while watching 1934’s “Shen Nu”
Film – The Goddess (Shen nu)
Year – 1934
Director – Wu Yonggang
Written by – Wu Yonggang
Staring – Lingyu Ruan, Tian Jian, Zhizhi Zhang
IMDb Rating – 7.8/10
My Rating – 3/10
Length – 73 min (1h 13min)
Genre – Drama
Thanks text for explaining the plot and how the main character has no name other than “Goddess”
We open with a man lighting lamps at night
We find Goddess taking care of her child before starting her job as a prostitute
Thanks neighbour across the hall for looking after my baby that I’ve left alone in my apartment
So… This is the life of someone who sells their body for money?!?
Cut to the morning as Goddess returns home
That door didn’t shut properly
WOOP WOOP IT’S THE SOUND OF THE POLICE – Been a while since I’ve done that
Goddess hides from the police who are telling people off for breaking curfew
Look… Before we get down to having sex… Fancy having a cigarette before we get started?
So… Is he the owner of an illegal gambling market?
Also… Why does he laugh at everything?
So… Are they about to have a foursome with 3 men and 1 woman while the child is sleeping?
There’s about a paragraph of text on screen and they have it up for about 3 seconds
That can’t be comfortable to sleep
So… Is he a pimp?
Screw this place, we’re moving!
How quickly did she pack everything?
Goddess then sells a bunch of things at a pawn shop before using the money to buy a gift
And the laughing fat man has found Goddess’s new home and openly admits that he sold her child for $200
Was it ever explained why he’s being a dick to her? Does she own him money?
So… He just gave her child back to her?!? He lied about selling her child?
25 minutes in and I have no clue what’s happening
Cut to years later and the we find the child grown up playing rock paper scissors
‘Not their type of family’ – That’s a bit harsh
9pm! Time for another night shift
Now then… Where can I hide my salary? Maybe in his random hole in the wall
Laughing Fat Man arrives and just sits down
Now to get my son into a school… But how?
34 minutes and we are told that Goddess’s son’s dad is dead
Why make the kids leave through a door when there’s a giant gate they could’ve opened
Right then, time for homework
Is these two a couple? They don’t act like one
You got taught ballet lessons in school? Better than mine already
Well… I wasn’t expecting that! – The screen just flashed the work ‘bastard’ multiple times
Who is he? Is he her boyfriend? Her boss? A stalker? Someone who thinks she owes him money? WHO IS HE????
You have talent shows in school?
We then get to see the talent show and… Well.. You’ve seen one you’ve seen them all – Thanks Britain’s Got Talent
Time for Goddess’s son to sing
“The dawn is calling, The dusk is calling, The dusk is calling, For a special edition, Called the night is falling”
“At a tender young age, The voice is full and bright, The remains of the morning, Crumble away in the moonlight”
“The streets are ringing, The alleys are singing, The fishmongers’ yells are fading, But the raucous is growing, All I know is that my mom and dad are so old, The work all day but still hold an empty rice bowl”
Now questions are being asked about Goddess’s occupation as a child dances
Reading with no translation
So… The other children’s parents are writing letters to the principal asking him to look into Goddess’ occupation
Principal arrives at Goddess’ apartment and begins asking questions
So… You find it odd that people hang their clothes out in places that aren’t wardrobes?
Goddess admits she’s a prostitute but says she uses the money for her son’s betterment – Think that sentence makes sense
Just realised! It’s been more than 10 minutes and we haven’t seen Laughing Fat Man
So… The Principal is letting her son stay and has given her a job as a cleaner?!?
Oh look! It’s Laughing Fat Man! And he’s looking for money!
Oh no! He’s found the money!
The Principal has a meeting saying Goddess is doing nothing wrong and that everyone’s making a big deal over nothing
Everyone disagrees and arguments ensue
Those glasses do not suit you
The Principal resigns and news quickly gets around
And also, Goddess’ son has been told never to come to school because of Goddess’ job
Goddess decides that they will move somewhere else before realising Laughing Fat Man took her money
‘Give us our money back or I’ll die’
She ain’t messing around about this money
JESUS!!! She just broke a bottle over Laughing Fat Man’s head!
And she’s been thrown straight to 12 years in jail for assault
Quick to the rescue is… The Principal! Well.. Sort of
He breaks the news that her son has been sent to an orphanage
She tells him that when he’s older to tell her son that she’s dead so that he never finds out about her past