Ju Dou, China’s first foreign language film nominee, focuses on Ju Dou, a female character who struggles to resist the tyranny of feudal ethics and feudal superstition in rural China in the early 20th century. Liu Heng is the author of Ju Dou. This film was directed by Zhang Yimou, a Chinese director. Yang Fengliang also helmed it. Zhang’s artistic expressions and colors are unique to him. This film features his characteristic of director-art. Ju Dou is a classic example of oriental cinema, combining eastern beauty and traditional social conflicts. It successfully depicts a Chinese-style tragedy in a feudalistic setting by using a variety of contrast techniques. Contrast techniques are primarily used in the film’s characterizations.
“Ju Dou”, the title of this film and also the name the lead character, is more than just the film’s title. Yang Tianqing’s return to his uncle’s place is the beginning of the story. Yang Jinshan’s uncle owns a dye factory that produces fabrics for villages. Tianqing was told by someone that Jinshan had just purchased a new spouse. Ju Dou is Jinshan’s wife. Jinshan has also tortured and executed two other wives. Jinshan let Ju Dou work in the dyemill in the daytime and tortures Ju Dou at night. He wants Ju Dou to have a son. Tianqing is drawn to Ju Dou’s beauty and young age. He visits her bathing place and watches her every morning. Ju Dou also feels the same about Tianqing because Jinshan can’t be a man. Soon they begin to have sexual relations. Jinshan believes the boy to be his own child and doesn’t even notice that Ju Dou is pregnant with a boy named Tianbai. Jinshan learns about Ju Dou’s affair with Tianqing and tries to kill Tianbai. Ironically, Tianbai only smiles at Jinshan as he struggles to breathe, even though Tianbai called Jinshan “father”. Tianqing must go to another place to avoid suspicion after Jinshan passes away. They continue to meet at different locations and have sex. Tianbai hears rumors that Tianbai’s mother and “brother” are secretive sex lovers in the field. Tianqing, an angry teenager, is vigorously rejected by him. Tianbai drowns Tianqing, and Ju Dou sets fire to the mill. The tragedy is made more real through the technical characterizations. They show two opposite types of features, one associated with penetration within Chinese feudal Society. Ju Dou, the heroine, first appears onscreen as a yellow-clad woman. She is wearing loose, untied hair and wears yellow clothes. Beautiful. Her eyes have a innocent look and a tender, water-like sweetness. This rural-style feature makes audiences feel like she could be gentle, obedient and just like other rural women of the time. We discover her rebelliousness and ambition when she tells Tianqing, “old thing,” that she keeps Jinshan’s virgin. Chinese feudal society views Jinshan’s illicit sexual relationship with Tianqing as incest even though they do not have a blood relation. This is a serious sin and strictly forbidden, especially for Ju Do. Women are usually in a lower position at this time and must obey men. Ju Dou is a rebel against the men-arranged destiny of women and wants to break free from social restrictions to achieve what she truly desires. This character is almost too sharp to be described. She has considered killing Jinshan when Jinshan threatens their peaceful lives. Jinshan is also her father. Because she believes that Tianqing’s father is Tianbai, it is inexplicable that she should tell Tianbai that fact. This extreme trait is detrimental to traditional women. She is open to the possibility of falling in love with her husband’s nephew and doesn’t feel guilty.
Tianqing sees it as Ju Dou’s opposite. Tianqing’s weakness is in a society dominated by men. He obeys almost entirely his uncle. He isn’t naturally obedient. He is capable of having his own thoughts and desires, but he doesn’t dare react to them. He doesn’t react to Ju Dou’s feelings, but he does look through the tiny hole at her and pay silent attention.
Tianqing can’t stop his anger at Jinshan torturing Ju Dou. Tianqing is so angry at Ju Dou’s screaming that he cannot contain his anger, he grabs anaxe one night. Jinshan stops Jinshan from trying to cut the wooden stairs because he’s too emotional. Tianqing realizes what just happened and comes to his senses again. His expression is a sign of his fear and loss. His past behavior seems to have surprised him. Tianqing’s deep thoughts and emotions are revealed by the plot. However, he is not allowed to share them with his audience. He is still bound by the feudal code.
It is interesting to see the contrast between Ju Dou’s smugness and Tianqing’s weakness. This is because in China’s darkest era, women are more bound than men. This film often uses this contrast to mock feudalism. Ju Dou stated several times that her desire to leave Tianqing’s village with Tianbai is for her and Tianbai a better life. Tianqing is not strong enough to make a new start. Tianqing believes that villagers will find out about their infidelity if the couple leaves. Tianqing does not want to be judged. Tianqing is so afraid of being condemned by the public. Ju Dou’s tragedy is due to his weak personality. It’s a comedy about patriarchal society in which men have the dominated power, but are not able to be powerful when they should. Two opposing main characters are portrayed in a film that is clever and makes the Chinese-style tragedy clear, structured, and meaningful.
The film’s stark color contrasts help to emphasize the tragic theme. Zhang is very skilled at applying colors. The sky looks grey-white in the film’s opening scene, as Tianqing leads Tianqing’s horse home. It’s also shown in the novel’s first sentence, which says “The sky is cloudy, just as an egg yolk that has been soaked in pumpkin soup” (Liu Heng), 5. People were covered in mists during feudalism’s years. Zhang uses colors as a way to bring harmony into the plot development. The film’s first half is dominated by red. Slowly, it shifts to blue-grey. The tone of red is used when Ju Dou, Tianqing, and Tianqing have sex together. The tone is dark when Tianbai refers to Jinshan as “father”. The director seems to give scenes in which main characters are optimistic with bright colors, but he also gives scenes where characters are unable to overcome dark tones. The audience is excited to see the contrast between bright and darker colors.
Contrast between bright dye fabrics and white walls and roof-tiles is the strongest. The director wanted to convey different meanings through the use of different colors, so he allowed for variety in the location. The brightly colored fabrics hanging in the dyemill are striking contrast to the brighter colors in the yard. The feudal atmosphere is represented by the stark white walls and black roof-tiles. The main characters’ spirit of rebellion is represented by the brightly colored fabrics. Ju Dou will often hang yellow and white fabrics at the very beginning. These colors aren’t loud, but they make the scene seem calm. Ju Dou notices Tianqing’s gaze when she looks at Tianqing. A blue cloth is behind her. Although it is bright, blue belongs to a cold tone. The audience is informed by the cold tone that Ju Dou keeps calm and rational when she sees Tianqing. This means that Ju Dou has not yet felt any feelings towards Tianqing. Ju Dou tells Tianqing her feelings about Jinshan and grabs a piece of red cloth. The bright red color represents the passion and hope expressed by the main characters. Contrasting the stark white backdrop, the bright fabrics help to tell an interesting story. The yard looks like it is being covered in warm-colored fogging.
The most important color in the film is red. The film also uses contrastive methods to portray the tragic art. Ju Dou and Tianqing finally get together. Ju Dou simultaneously kicks the stick which supports the wooden wheels. Red cloth is thrown into the dye vat, which is filled with red dye.
This scene is filled with amazing artistic beauty, which signifies that the characters are free of any binding power. Tianbai’s birth is marked by the red swaddling cloths that he wears to symbolize his joy. These parts use red to convey positive emotions to the audience. Red has a lucky meaning in China. Red color is used in Chinese joyous occasions in many different ways. The director gave red dye different meanings in later scenes. Jinshan, Tianqing and Tianqing get soaked in dye. Both struggle with the red dye. They feel like they are surrounded by blood. Tianqing drowning scene: A red cloth falls very quickly into a vat. In comfortable scenes before, red is a sign of hope and joy. Red, on the other hand, is a depressing color that strikes the eyes of the audience and awakens their minds. It is a terrible color.
The film’s juxtaposition of identical objects with different metaphorical meanings emphasizes the fact that characters are still too weak for the feudalism situation. As I explained above, Tianqing gets drowned in the dye tank. In this scene, the red fabric falls in rapid succession into the dye bath at the same speed as Ju dou’s first encounter with sex. The campaign to end feudal ethics and allow for sexual freedom is evident in the falling red fabric. The campaign to the feudal ethics and the release of sexuality begin when Ju Dou and Tianqing have their first sex. The campaign ceases when Tianqing is killed and does not achieve success. It is easy to see the contrast between these scenes. The red cloth in Tianqing’s drowning scene is freed from the wooden wheel. This is the final chapter of this tragic story. Ju Dou also loses his hope after Tianqing’s passing. The viewers are grieved that two opposing implications were given in identical scenes. The contrast between the beginning and ending of each main character’s campaign makes it more powerful, strengthening the characters’ tragedy.
A second object, the hole, has two metaphorical meanings. Tianqing intercepts Ju Dou right at the beginning of the story through a tiny hole. This suggests that they are not ready to rebel against feudal ethics. Comparatively, when Ju Dou and Tianqing go on their last secretive trysts in the cellar’s cellar, there is a large hole at the cellar’s entrance. However, the large hole does not reflect the society’s progress. The big hole suggests that they could only open so small a space in comparison to the vast world of sunshine. Their relationship is not a shining light in society. It is impossible to change that. The contrast between the meanings two holes shows the brutality and reality of feudal societies.
Rey Chow says in the conclusion that these stories of gothic, often morbid oppression, are marked by contrast with the sensuous film design. Zhang’s film language is rich in vivid colors when depicting ‘backwardness. ” (143). Zhang is an excellent director at using color contrast to increase the drama and reveal the characters’ inner thoughts. In the film, the masterstroke is the use of brightly colored dyed cloths. The director cleverly uses contrast techniques in metaphorical expressions and characterizations to enhance the film’s tragic atmosphere. Ju Dou’s and Tianqing’s opposite personalities are very interesting. Sad ironies are the comparisons between the different meanings of red dyed cloths and holes. Ju Dou, Tianqing and others are not important in feudal China. The fog of feudal philosophy will not let them escape no matter what they want.