The Red Detachment of Women

This classic from 1970 is the cinematic counterpart to the original Cultural Revolution posters and prints on view in Mahjong. One of only eight “model works” of theater and ballet permitted to be performed during the Cultural Revolution, The Red Detachment of Women is deeply ingrained in China's cultural consciousness in its various forms: novel, 1960 melodrama directed by Xie Jin, ballet, and opera. This is a filmed version of the ballet that premiered on stage in 1964. It tells of the heroic exploits of a peasant girl on Hainan Island in the 1930s who escapes bondage to a landowner to join the Red Detachment of Women. The film attracted international attention at the Venice and San Francisco Film Festivals in 1971. The Chronicle's dance critic noted, “China has made an extraordinary discovery . . . that female dancers don't need as much male support as Westerners thought they did. . . . The overall impression is one of tremendous freedom and joy in all uses of space.”

This page may by only partially complete. For additional information about this film, view the original entry on our archived site.