The Goddess

The Goddess (Chinese: 神女; pinyin: Shénnǚ) is a 1934 Chinese silent film released by the Lianhua Film Company (United Photoplay). The film tells the story of an unnamed woman, who lives as a  streetwalker by night and devoted mother by day in order to get her young son an education amid social injustice in the streets of Shanghai, China. It starred Ruan Lingyu in one of her final roles, and was directed by Wu Yonggang. Wu was a leftist writer-director who struggled to make films in China from the 1930s up until the early 1980s, enduring the mass social changes that accompanied the Communist takeover and the Cultural Revolution. Lo Ming Yau produced the film and Hong Weilie was the cinematographer.


An unnamed young woman (Ruan Lingyu) works as a prostitute to support herself and her baby son. One night, fleeing from a police street sweep, she hides in the room of a gambler. He forces her to stay the night with him for not betraying her to the police, and she has no choice but to submit. Later, however, he and two of his pals show up at her place. He makes it clear that he considers her his property. The woman attempts to flee, but the gambler tracks her down and frightens her by claiming to have sold her son to punish her. The gambler returns the child, but he has made his point; she realizes she cannot protect her son from him and gives in. However, she manages to hide some of her earnings behind a loose brick in her wall and saves the money for the education of her son.