Blind Mountain

Blind Mountain reveals one of China’s continuing social problems, selling women for marriage in modern day China. The promise of a good-paying job lures a young Chinese woman into a horrifying predicament in this drama. In the 1990s college student Bai Xuemei becomes victimized by unscrupulous bride abductors. She is drugged and awakens in a dingy hut in a remote village to find she’s been sold into a marriage to the repulsive “husband” that is slavery in disguise. Her resistance only results in being raped by her “husband” and continual beatings at the hands of her husband, her husbands’ parents, and the villagers. Trapped in the fiercely traditional town, the young woman finds that her avenues of escape are all blocked. She searches for allies, including a young boy, a school teacher and a mailman. With hope running out, Bai undertakes one final dramatic stand against her oppressors. A powerful film on modern young Chinese women kidnapped into a barbaric peasant life due to a shortage of brides for farmers in the mountainous inner regions of China. So much is said in so little words. Reading the captions in English, and watching the faces, this film conveyed much about a rural Chinese culture that was abiding by the old cruel custom of “bride by capture”. Apparently this is a common practice in China, for there are several other captive wives in the village. Most of them have become resigned to their fate, particularly after they have children. This horrendous tale depicts a time as recent as the 1990s when young women were captured and sold to men in Northern China for as little as $500. Burdened by its burgeoning population, China long ago adopted a one-child family-planning policy. This, in turn, led to selective abortions and illegal infanticide of females, since women have long been regarded, especially in rural China, as chattel-slaves. Soon there was a considerable shortage of eligible women in the countryside, as the fewer women who were raised there frequently fled to the cities where they could get jobs and be treated more as human beings. So, rural men began buying kidnapped brides from slave brokers, to serve as their slave-wives. Local Party officials typically accepted the practice and the bribes that came along with it. Yang Li’s brutally honest and brilliantly produced film presents a case-study of a kidnapped wife-slave. The absolute despair of her enslavement is agonizing to witness. The cinematography in pastoral and natural settings is amazing. The acting is quite good; it’s easy to accept the villagers as locals (which turns out to be true except for some leads). The insight into human nature is fascinating. The ending is startling and abrupt, and leaves the viewer with many questions as to the final outcome of Bai’s struggle. While this is a fictionalized story, the practice itself is still rampant in parts of China and are even much worse that what was depicted. It is said that the Director, Ying Li, had to adapt the script with changes to please the Government of China. This film makes you see, hear, and feel the horror their lives have become, in a way that no news outlet story could ever make you understand. Blind Mountain accomplishes more for human rights and especially for the rights of women than a dozen well-intentioned books could ever do. Yang Li also poses a disquieting moral challenge of great moment to a modern world trying to be tolerant of different cultures while striving to retain some sense of universal values. There can be no compromise between human rights and ancient habits. One must defeat the other. One must die for the other to live. (Mang Shan) Drama 2007 NR 95 minutes.


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