Ermo, directed by Zhou Xiaowen, China 1994
Ermo, a peasant, industrious and self-assertive; married with one son; sexually frustrated because husband is impotent for years; feels unwanted and becomes passionate about money, in the era of reforms (1980s-90s), the going ethos is, in Deng Xiao-ping’s words, “to be rich is glorious”; sells baskets and “twisty noodles” that she makes when her husband is not giving her the attention she needs; sets her mind on buying a 29-inch colored TV for her son and sells her blood for cash; has an extramarital affair with her neighbor who is a truck driver and opens her eyes to what money can buy; buys the TV as a status symbol to validate her life’s worth (perhaps the same way a male child validates a woman’s worth in traditional Chinese family)
Chief, Ermo’s husband; used to be in charge of the village (commune) in the days of Mao era, although still called “chief” by villagers out of politeness; physically weak and sexually impotent; dependent on Ermo as the family’s breadwinner, but disagrees with her views on money and wealth
Blindman (Xiazi)a truck driver with a deep pocket and ready cash; married with a daughter; loses physical attraction to his wife and becomes enamored with Ermo living next door; makes himself and his truck available to Ermo when she needs a ride to town; finds a job for her in the city and secretly subsidizes her salary; attempts to marry Ermo and to control her with his money; tells Ermo “Money is nothing without a son”; frustrated by Ermo’s strong will to be financially independent; visits prostitutes after his illicit affair with ermo is over; gets beat up by pimps
Blindman’s wife, unattractive and slightly overweight; does not work, a full time home-maker; feels inadequate because she does not have a son, like Ermo; often antagonizes Ermo by referring to her husband’s impotence; feels important when she permits Ermo’s son to watch TV in her house; unsuspecting of the affair between her neighbor and her husband
Tiger, nick-name for Ermo’s only son, about the same age as the neighbor’s daughter; often goes to watch TV at the neighbor’s home despite his mother’s words that he should not go; when stopped, asks Ermo to buy him a TV bigger and better


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