Unlike his other major films of the Nineties, Zhang Yimou‘s The Story of Qiu Ju (1993) is set in contemporary China and is thus not a period piece. It is, however, a film that enables him once again to censure authoritarianism (read Communism) while unassumingly focusing on other subjects and themes as well. The elusiveness of justice, the problem of persistence without thought, the alien nature of the big city to a rural denizen—these are the most important themes. The struggle to win an official apology is Qiu Ju‘s subject. The struggle is undertaken by a pregnant peasant woman (Gong Li), and the movie ends sadly enough to further buttress Zhang’s vision.
(In Mandarin with English subtitles)