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Qionghua Exposes her Wounds

by Sasha Welland

The Red Detachment of Women (Hongse niangzi jun), a film based on a novel based on actual historical events, was originally released on July 1, 1961 to commemorate the fortieth anniversary of the founding of the Chinese Communist Party. In the decade that followed, the film became a revolutionary ballet and a revolutionary model opera, both of which were then turned back into films. During the Cultural Revolution, it was one of only eight model plays permitted for public performance. In this scene, in response to the female commander’s instructions to apply for entry by explaining why she wants to join the Communist army, Qionghua exposes her wounds. In this classic cinematic take on a revolutionary moment of “speaking bitterness,” the woman’s body bears the marks of patriarchal feudal oppression. Her politics of exposure become pedagogical; they move the viewer to sympathy but also demonstrate Qionghua’s need for political training. Under the tutelage of party leaders in the military, Qionghua learns through error to transform personal rage against her former master into class solidarity.

Qionghua exposes her wounds

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Wu Qionghua (actor: Zhu Xijuan) exposes the wounds on her chest, caused by beatings in landlord Nan Batian's household, as evidence of her proletariat class background in an appeal to join the Red Army's detachment of women.

from The Red Detachment of Women (1961)
Creator: Xie Jin
Distributor: Jinan: Qilu yinxiang chubanshe (2004), DVD
Posted by Sasha Welland