Symbol and the Family Melodrama in Lost in Beijing
Li Yu, one of the few female Chinese film directors, has focused on female characters and issues women face. Lost in Beijing (2007) tells the story of Liu Pingguo, a migrant worker in Beijing who is raped by her boss. When she becomes pregnant, her husband and boss bargain over possession of her and the child she is carrying. She is reduced to a commodity function exchanged for its value in conceiving and bearing a child. Nevertheless, over the course of the film, a Mercedes-Benz serves not only as the basic status symbol for her boss but also a much more ambivalent role as the space of negotiation between the characters in the film. The final images of the film show this car breaking down on a major Beijing street. Simultaneously, Pingguo has left her situation, in an audacious recapitulation of Nora’s departure at the end of Ibsen’s A Doll’s House. It is in this symbolic deployment of the car in combination with her escape that the film subtly but provocatively dismantles the patriarchy’s power over Pingguo.
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