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Living Revolution | Movies | Feature Films

The Red Detachment of Women
(feature film, Tianma Films, 1961; ballet version 1971)
Hongse niangzi jun
Dir. Xie Jin

On tropical Hainan Island, a group of courageous women pursue the communist battle against the Nationalists. Wu Qionghua joins the group and becomes a proud leader after having suffered pain, humiliation and loss. The evil landlord Nan Batian had killed her father and taken Wu as his slave. She tried to escape but was always captured and punished. She was eventually freed by Hong Changqing, a communist agent disguised as a rich overseas Chinese arms dealer.

Wu joins the female detachment of the Red Army led by Hong. However, obsessed by her desire to seek revenge on Nan Batian, she is injured and endangers her comrades. Through correct communist education she is able to transform her personal hatred into class solidarity. After Hong is burnt to death by Nan Batian, Wu leads her women’s detachment in a successful offensive against the tyrant. He is captured, paraded through the streets and executed. Wu now takes over Hong’s command and continues the battle.

A ballet version of this story was produced in 1971, and an opera version the following year.

(adapted from Paola Voci and Yingjin Zhang’s entry on “The Red Detachment of Women” in Yingjin Zhang and Zhiwei Xiao, eds, Encyclopedia of Chinese Film, London: Routledge, 1998, p. 279.)

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