Goddess 神女 (1934)

The film:

Shennü
Alternative English title: The Goddess
Written and directed by Wu Yonggang
Lianhua Film Studio
Released on December 7, 1934
Cast: Ruan Lingyu, Li Keng, Zhang Zhizhi, Li Junpan
English subtitles translated by Christopher Rea

Widely regarded as the finest Chinese silent film, Goddess is a stylistic masterpiece. A single mother working as a streetwalking prostitute finds herself trapped in a relationship with a thuggish gambler, and desperately fights to escape. How should society respond to her sacrifices? An exemplary melodrama featuring legendary actress Ruan Lingyu at her most radiant. Child actor Li Keng (Henry Lai, Lai Hang) also appears in films Sports Queen (1934) and Song of China (1935).

Learn more

Watch the video lectures and see other related content in Module 3 of the Chinese Film Classics course.

Goddess is discussed in chapter 4 of the book Chinese Film Classics, 1922-1949.