in about 100 words or less
China 85m, B&W, Silent
Director: Wu Yonggang; Cast: Lingyu Ruan, Tian Jian, Zhizhi Zhang, Keng Li
Shen nu is a silent melodrama about the caring mother of a young child who is coerced into remaining a prostitute by a gambler known as “the Boss”. As a character, the Goddess is a symbol for social problems including exploitation, social prejudice and poverty. Though seemingly old-fashioned as a silent film for its time, the film’s realism and underlying message are unintentionally poignant considering that Ruan would take her own life shortly after this film was completed. Featured in the acclaimed biographical film Center Stage (1992), the subtext of Ruan’s final film mirrored the final days of her own short tragic life (Klaus Ming October 2016).