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Context Film / TheGoddess

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3''The Goddess'' (神女, ''Shénnǚ'') is a 1934 Chinese silent film. The unnamed protagonist is a young woman in UsefulNotes/{{Shanghai}} who is prostituting herself to provide for her infant son. One night she dives into a random door in order to avoid a police raid. Unfortunately for her the apartment she hides in is inhabited by a thuggish lout of a man who runs a gambling den. The man first strongarms her into having sex with him in exchange for hiding in the apartment, then later looks her up again and forces himself into her life as a most unwelcome pimp. The woman tries to raise her son while dealing with her pimp and struggling with the social stigma of her life as a prostitute.
5''The Goddess'' treats prostitution with a frankness and honesty that Western films [[UsefulNotes/TheHaysCode would not approach for decades]]. Star Creator/RuanLingyu killed herself in 1935 aged only 24, after multiple bad relationships had made her a target of the Chinese tabloid press. Her story was dramatized in the 1991 film ''Film/{{Center Stage|1991}}'', starring Creator/MaggieCheung.
7For another tearjerker starring Ruan Lingyu, see ''Film/PeachBlossomWeepsTearsOfBlood''.
12* AssholeVictim: That pimp sure does deserve what he gets.
13* BetweenMyLegs: The woman is framed this way between the pimp's legs, as he forces his way into her life.
14* BittersweetEnding: The woman is sentenced to 12 years in prison for killing the pimp. But the principal comes to see her in jail and tells her that he has adopted the boy and will educate the boy himself, giving the boy a chance at a better life. The woman tells him to tell her son that she's dead, and the film ends with her imagining his future life.
15* DisappearedDad: The woman tells the school that her son's father is dead. No backstory is provided to explain who the boy's father is or how the woman even wound up living the life of a streetwalker.
16* DoubleMeaningTitle: The Chinese title literally translates as "goddess", but was also slang for "prostitute". Here it works both ways, referencing the woman's occupation as well as her selflessness and bravery in taking care of her son.
17* GrievousBottleyHarm: Played with surprising realism. The woman kills the pimp with one blow to the head from a wine bottle, which doesn't shatter.
18* HeroicBSOD: The woman falls into one after she kills the pimp and doesn't snap out of it until she's tossed into her cell.
19* HookerWithAHeartOfGold: She certainly deserves better than the life she got.
20* KidsAreCruel: Screaming "Bastard! Bastard! Bastard!" at the boy at school is just not very nice.
21* NamelessNarrative: Not one name for any of the characters.
22* NeverLearnedToRead: The pimp admits this when wondering why the woman bothers to send her boy to school.
23* ReasonableAuthorityFigure: The principal of the school is perfectly willing to let the boy remain enrolled after confirming that the boy's mother is in fact a prostitute. The rest of the school board decides to expel the boy anyway, whereupon the principal resigns in protest.
24* RedLightDistrict: Hookers roam street corners and thugs run illicit gambling dens, yep, it qualifies.
25* SexualExtortion: The man basically threatens to throw her out of his apartment, which would have resulted in her arrest by the cop outside, if she doesn't have sex with him. Unfortunately for her, she accepts the deal.
26* SilenceIsGolden: Talking films were made in China as early as 1930 (the first Chinese talkie is believed to be ''Sing Song Girl Red Peony''), but silent films stuck around in China for quite a bit longer than they did in Hollywood and Europe. Language barriers, both the English-language barrier with Hollywood films and internal language barriers between Mandarin Chinese and other Chinese languages such as Cantonese, resulted in a market for silent films in China for several years after sound film production had begun.
27* SingleMomStripper: The woman is hooking to support her boy.
28* SonOfAWhore: The boy is socially stigmatized in the neighborhood and at school once people realize what his mother does.
29* StepfordSmiler: The woman when the pimp and his friends muscle their way into her apartment and demand to be entertained.