The Story of Qiu Ju () by Zhang Yimou (1992, China) is based on a novella “The Wan Family’s Lawsuit.” Written by Chen Yuanbin, it’s a Chinese comedy-drama film.  It was a film that hit the film festivals and won the “Golden Lion” award at Venice film festival 1992.

You might expect this movie revolves around “Qiu Ju” (Gong Li) and her family, but it actually shows more than that, this film also shows the daily life of people in the mainland China. From the beginning, you get to see citizens walking around in the street of China for about ninety seconds, before revealing “Qiu Ju”  walking up. The ninety seconds of the scene with no protagonist in the frame focuses on how ‘ordinary’ their lives are.


Zhang signature as a filmmaker was always storytelling mode dominated by visual display.


Along the way, you will see the life of China, from remote village side to the big cites, lots of people travel on foot or bicycles, stay in “Hotels”, standing up eating at a road side noodle shop, getting cheated by a dishonest driver who over charges. He also touches on the “One Child Policy”, which restricts urban couples to only one child. The policy was controversial in China and other countries due to the way it was executed and concern for the negative social consequences. The film truly reflected the controversial society of China.


One online critic (Roger Ebert) said: “along the way we absorb more information about the lives of ordinary people in everyday China than in any other film I’ve seen.”


The film eventually narrows down on these three characters, “Qiu Ju” who is pregnant, her husband who got hurt in the groin by the village chef (Kesheng Lei) and her younger sister. All she wanted  was an apology from the village chief, however the government gets involved, complicating matters of what could have been a simple solution to the issue.


“Qiu Ju” and the village chief are both very stubborn people, as seen in the film, where “Qiu Ju” constantly tries to plead her case to the authorities, and the village chief refusing to give in and apologise.


Gradually, the relationships and unity within the village can be seen when it became a matter of life and death. The villagers put aside all their personal problems and concentrate on saving lives.


After knowing that “Qiu Ju” had lost a lot of blood in the process of giving birth, he travels long distance to get help and send her to the hospital, showing the bond of the villages.

Throughout the film there is a minimal use of music and more of the sounds of bustling city sounds and people talking. Possibly only one music score was used in the whole film, and only the opening of the song was used but only for different scenes. The lack of music scores and increased use of natural sounds brings reality into the film, and also gets the viewers to feel the emotions through the visual aspects and not the musical aspect, which is what Zhang is about as a film maker: storytelling through visual display.


Zhang shows the daily life of China, not just through visuals but also through hearing in a different way that is more natural with a subtle but strong impact, rather than the epic background music. This allows you to feel the film in a more intimate way, as if you were part of the film itself and not as a spectator watching a film.

The film not only touched at the daily lives of the people of China, but also the hardships they undergo. Zhang told a simple story that showed how complex little things can turn into when pride and authorities come into play.


“I must stick with Chinese language films.”

Zhang Yimou

Zhang’s films are mostly all about China and his country, not just the story itself but also the ordinary people in everyday China.

A film about ordinary people with ordinary problems.

“Charles Looi is a young crazy producer and script writer, which trying to find his place in the filming industry, leaving his name in the film history.

Inspired by director like “Steven Spielberg” and movies like “The Last Samurai”, “Black Hawk Down”, “Tears of the Sun” and “Hachiko”

He strives to inspire others as much as how he got inspired by others too.”


– En.wikipedia.org, Zhang Yimou– Wikipedia, the free encyclopaedia.

[online] Available at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zhang_Yimou

[Accessed: 20 Jun 2013].

–       En.wikipedia.org, The Story of Qiu Ju – Wikipedia, the free encyclopaedia.

[online] Available at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Story_of_Qiu_Ju

[Accessed: 20 Jun 2013].

– Zhang Yimou. http://sensesofcinema.com, Zhang Yimou

17 May. 2002. [Accessed: 20 Jun 2013].

–       Ebert, Roger.  “www.rogerebert.com, reviews/the-story-of-qiu-ju-1993

May 28. 1993.  [Accessed: 20 Jun 2013].

– Zhang Yimou quotes  “www.brainyquote.com” /quotes/authors/z/zhang_yimou.html

[Accessed: 20 Jun 2013].


One thought on “Ordinary people, Ordinary problems

  1. Hey Charles!
    I like how you pointed out the main points of the film that really stood out! However, you may want to elaborate more and phrase them alittle more clearly so that it is not that confusing. I have tried my best in editing parts of your essay and marked them in bold! Hope they were of help to you! Good luck!

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