Analysis Of The Movie ' Save Me ! ' Essay

Analysis Of The Movie ' Save Me ! ' Essay

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“Save me!” cries Wei Ming, the protagonist of Cai Chusheng’s 1935 film New Woman. She strains forward in her hospital bed, her eyes gleaming with desperation, as the toxins she ingested in a suicide attempt claim her life. “I want to live!” she exclaims. I want to live! This primal sentiment, this vital urge, serves as Wei Ming’s credo throughout New Woman. Wei Ming’s futile struggle to survive as an independent actor within her society reflects the tenuous existence of China’s “new women” in the mid-1930s. This class of educated, urbane women sought equality and autonomy within their modernizing nation, only to find that the Confucian social structure that once imprisoned them remained largely intact. Despite persistent efforts throughout New Woman to defend her autonomy and achieve equality with her male counterparts, Wei Ming falls short, condemned by insurmountable barriers to a life of penury, indignity, and in turn, death. A noted radical filmmaker, Chusheng utilizes Wei Ming’s journey through social oppression to attack the power retained, even in an evolving China, by a Confucian gender hierarchy.
Chusheng emphasizes that Wei Ming’s tribulations originate in the residue of institutional Confucianism. The China depicted in New Woman features a progressive veneer, replete with bustling urban centers and a glamorous elite, but a Confucian social structure underlies this cosmetic modernity. In New Woman, the most pervasive aspect of this structure is its rigid gender hierarchy. Confucianism, as a religious philosophy and cultural tradition, relies on a system of familial and communal obligations; this system mandates the subservience of the female gender, requiring women to obey, in turn, their fathers, husbands...

... middle of paper ... lays dying in a hospital bed after her suicide attempt, he prints an article attacking her character.
Wei Ming’s death is Chusheng’s most strident assault on China’s Confucian gender hierarchy. A society that compels one of its members to choose between slave-like subservience and death is eminently unjust, and Wei Ming depicts 1930s China as such a society. Chusheng depicts every injustice inflicted upon Wei Ming as either absurdly misogynistic or sexually depraved, portraying these as the logical results of a Confucian system that mandates women’s lifelong subservience to men. While New Woman suggests no solutions or specific reforms that might provide redress for this social ill, it makes one thing very clear: Women deserve the respect and autonomy accorded to their male counterparts, and a social structure that rejects this truth must not go unchallenged.

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