Director: Xie Jin (1960)
The Red Detachment of Women, a feature film directed by Xie Jin, topped the list of fine screen works on women. It won the Best Feature Film Prize at the First Hundred Flowers Awards in 1962. It is one of the representative films directed by Xie Jin in his early period. Qiong Hua is a slave girl of Nan Batian, a big landlord in Yelinzhai Village on Hainan Island. She has tried many times but cannot escape from the landlord's cruel oppression. Later, Nan Batian jails her in a water dungeon. Hong Changqing is the Party representative of a red detachment of women. He disguises himself as a wealthy businessman residing abroad and comes to her rescue. He pretends to buy Qiong Hua to be his slave, saves her from the abyss of sufferings, and instructs her to join the red detachment of women. At the outset, Qiong Hua joins the revolutionary rank to settle her personal grudge. Educated by Hong Changqing, she becomes a conscientious revolutionary fighter.
The film features a complicated, moving plot and a simple, straightforward style of expression. It reveals the inner world of the characters with close-ups of their eye expressions and by using a zoom lens and the characters' words and body movements. It gives a vivid description of the disposition of the leading character Qiong Hua. The landscape of southern China and the music tinged with a strong local flavor add considerably to the artistic charm. The film won the third place of the Bandung Prize at the Third Asia-African Film Festival in 1964 in Indonesia.
What's noteworthy is that Chen Qiang, who acted the landlord in the film, elevated the techniques of acting makes the villains in films to a new level. He reached the depth of the inner world of dramatis personae, and employs several methods to expose the character in a lifelike way. Chen Qiang won the Best Male Supporting Role of the One Hundred Flower Award. He also won the Best Male Actor Award at the Third Asian and African Film Festival in 1964. The film displays the distinct flavor of Hainan Island, and the theme song The Army Song of The Red Detachment of Women is not only a march but also an aria, which is melodious and sweet-sounding, and is still circulated and sung today.
(chinaculture.org January 19, 2004)