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Film / Wild Rose

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Xiao strugges with pumps.
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Wild Rose (Ye mei gui, 野玫瑰) is a 1932 Chinese silent film written and directed by Sun Yu.

Xiao Feng (17-year old Wang Renmei in her film debut) is a peasant girl who lives in a fishing village outside of Shanghai. She is a spirited type who takes care of her rather dissolute father and plays with the kids of the village in her spare time. Into her life comes Jiang Po (Jin Yan, a heartthrob of Chinese cinema), a painter and scion of an ultra-rich family. Xiao and Jiang fall in love, and eventually he takes her out of the village and home to his family mansion in Shanghai. However, the introduction to Jiang's stuffy father goes disastrously wrong, and Jiang and Xiao find themselves in the slums of Shanghai eking out an existence in poverty. They're happy regardless, however, until a single bad decision separates them—and war with Japan looms as another threat to happiness.

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Not to be confused with a manga of the same name.


Tropes:

  • The Alcoholic: Xiao's father has run up a sizable debt because he's been borrowing money to buy liquor. When he's first shown he's yelling for Xiao to get him a drink—she has been forced to hide the alcohol from him, although she's cheerful enough when she pours him one.
  • Bail Equals Freedom: Mr. Po springs Jiang and Li, and that is it as far as the stealing-a-wallet matter goes.
  • Cowboys and Indians: Xiao leads the kids of the village in playing war, with two armies, complete with wooden guns, marching, and breastworks that one army defends from another army's charge.
  • Dirty Old Man: The lecherous fishmonger must be at least 40 years older than Xiao, but he leers at her, and he tries to get her father to sell Xiao to him in marriage. Xiao's father is pretty crappy overall but to his credit he gets very angry at this.
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  • Enter Stage Window: Part of Xiao's Establishing Character Moment. When her father's bellowing for her, she enters their hut through the window instead of the door, just to screw with him.
  • Epic Tracking Shot: The camera follows Jiang through an apartment, through a door, and up two flights of stairs.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • Li makes a comment about how he's afraid that Jiang the painter will take his job. After Jiang is kicked out of his father's house and he can't sell his art, Jiang actually does joing Li as a billboard painter.
    • The war game that Xiao plays with the village kids foreshadows everyone going off to fight the Japanese in the end.
  • Fun with Subtitles: Fun with titles. When a title card announces "winter", the Chinese characters that mean "winter" are covered in snow.
  • I Am Spartacus: When Xiao is confessing to having picked up the drunk guy's wallet, all three of her male companions say that no, they did it. Eventually Jiang and Li are arrested.
  • I Have No Son!: Because Mr. Po is a dick, he says "I no longer have a son" when Xiao begs for him to bail Jiang out. She winds up having to promise to live Jiang forever.
  • Makeover Montage: Jiang, wanting Xiao to make a good impression with his family, has her get a makeover in which she's dolled up and dressed in fancy clothes.
  • Match Cut:
    • From a woman with a bat grabbing her son's ear and berating him, to a young girl grabbing the ear of a pig.
    • Towards the end, there's a Match Cut contrasting soldiers in the trenches with the decadent rich dancing at a party.
  • Meet Cute: Xiao is hustling a flock of geese down the road, which winds up obstructing Jiang's way as he's driving in his convertible. She sasses him for being a rich aristocrat lording it over the peasants. Then she falls in a ditch.
  • Propaganda Machine: The whole film turns out to be a propaganda piece encouraging Chinese nationalism and resistance against the Japanese,who had invaded Manchuria the year before. In the early going, Xiao demands that the little kids in her army game pledge their love for China. In the end, Jiang leaves his decadent family again in order to join the army—and he's reunited with Xiao at the rally. The film ends with shots of the whole gang marching off to war as a title card proclaims "Road to Glory".
  • Rebellious Princess: Jiang is only too happy to leave his pampered rich boy life behind.
    "My former life was too perfect, too aristocratic, too artistic! One reason I won't go home is that I want to feel how the common man lives."
  • Title Drop: Jiang calls Xiao "my wild rose."
  • Tomboy: Xiao likes to play army games. She is distinctly uncomfortable when dressed in fancy clothes and the fancy Western-style shoes that Jiang gets her pinch her feet. This causes disaster when she takes the shoes off right before Jiang's father comes home. She also thinks nothing of whipping out a safety pin in front of a whole room of hoity-toity rich people to pin up her stockings when they start to sag.
  • Unkempt Beauty: Xiao is dressed in raggedy
  • Uptown Girl: A problem for Jiang and Xiao, as she is the daughter of a peasant fisherman while he is a son of the elite.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Xiao's father accidentally kills the fishmonger in a fire, and then runs away. He is incorrectly presumed dead, leading Jiang to take Xiao home. One might guess he would turn up later in the film, but he's never seen again.
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