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Ju Dou (1990)

 -  Drama  -  April 1991 (USA)
7.8
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Ratings: 7.8/10 from 4,765 users  
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A woman married to the brutal and infertile owner of a dye mill in rural China conceives a boy with her husband's nephew but is forced to raise her son as her husband's heir without ... See full summary »

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Title: Ju Dou (1990)

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Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 4 wins & 1 nomination. See more awards »

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Cast

Credited cast:
Ma Chong
Zhijun Cong
Wu Fa
...
Jia Jin
Baotian Li ...
Wei Li ...
Xingli Niu
Yang Qianbin
Zhang Yi ...
Tianbai as child
Jia Zhaoji
Ji-an Zheng ...
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Storyline

A woman married to the brutal and infertile owner of a dye mill in rural China 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. Filmed in glowing technicolour, this tale of romantic and familial love in the face of unbreakable tradition is more universal than its setting. Written by Keith Loh <loh@sfu.ca>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Drama

Certificate:

PG-13 | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Details

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Release Date:

April 1991 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Ju Dou  »

Box Office

Gross:

$1,986,433 (USA)
 »

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Technical Specs

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Sound Mix:

Color:

(Eastmancolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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User Reviews

 
Chinese cinema at its best
25 April 2002 | by (los angeles, CA) – See all my reviews

What captivates me while watching a foreign language film is the depiction of culture. I want to know what kind of customs the other countries have and how they differ from my culture. Ju Dou is a Chinese film released in 1990. It was co-directed by Yang Fengliang and Zhang Yimou. Coming three years after The Last Emperor-a movie that depicts the Chinese culture in a spectacular way-Ju Dou tells its story about normal people and how their culture impedes their right to live and love.

Love stories have always been more interesting if it is about two struggling people. Who wants to see a rich guy and a beautiful model fall in love? Ju Dou's love story involves a man named Tianqing (Li Baotian) and his uncle's new wife Ju Dou (Gong Li). Tianjing's uncle, Jinshan (Li Wei), is a respected member of the village, and he tortured his previous two wives to death because they could not produce a heir for him. Tianqing is smitten by Ju Dou, while Ju Dou wants Tianqing to help her escape Jinshan's beatings.

Because of Chinese customs, Tianqing and Ju Dou cannot let the village know they are in love. The situation becomes more complicated when they have a child. Directors Fengliang Yang and Zhang Yimou tell their story with such elegance and grace. I love the way they used the colorful drapes inside the dye mill. They used it for decoration, cover, symbolism, and at some times, it seems to be another character.

The whole movie is set on a small village in 1920s China. It takes advantage of the great scenery and produces some great vistas and backgrounds. The cinematography is simple but is perfect for the story. This movie and a recent movie, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, shows us evidence of the power of Chinese cinema.

It is very hard to make a wonderful movie in a country that does not allow free speech. Ju Dou was banned in China because it displayed defiance of the Chinese culture. It showed a woman rebelling against her husband and committing adultery. I thought the directors did a great job of hiding their political message under a luscious love story. Nonetheless, it was still banned in China but was well received in other parts of the globe, including America.

The love scenes and violence are more implied that visual because of Chinese limitations. Chinese filmakers always had difficulty in creating great art because they are not fully free to express themselves. Ju Dou makes up for these by showing wonderful images and insightful symbolism. Ju Dou sometimes goes on a stretch without any dialogue and lets the images tell the story. Zhang Yimou scored an Oscar nomination for Best Foreign Language Film and a best director award at Cannes with Ju Dou. He followed it up the following year with the equally impressive Raise the Red Lantern. Ju Dou is a visually stunning film and very much well worth the time watching.


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