The Egression of Evil in Goodness

Use of Mise-En-Scène And Cinematography to Illustrate Societal Hypocrisy and The Egression of Evil in Goodness.


The film The Goodness premiered in 1934 in Shanghai, China, and hailed for sophisticated film languages. Also, Wu – the director, was praised for depicting unemployment, intolerance, and prostitution, which were sensitive social issues in China (Harris 128). The film has become a global figure, prompting debates about an individual’s capacity to act through various situations and the cinematic illustration or representation of society’s change. In the scene where the unnamed woman kills the mock husband, Mise-en-scène and cinematography illustrate societal hypocrisy and evil egression in goodness.


Near the film’s ending, the woman hits her mock husband with a bottle and kills him (Yonggang 70:25). This is preceded by a series of circumstantial situations that face the woman. She is unemployed, which leads her to prostitution. One night, she is arrested by police, but a crook saves her in exchange for sex (Yonggang 10:31). Further, the crook proposes a mock marriage, from which he takes advantage, such as siphoning her savings. Though the woman is in the under-class, she manages to save up fees to educate her son and run away, but the thug keeps her at a close, making it hard to escape. Wary parents – community members demand her son’s expulsion, citing that he is a prostitute’s son (Yonggang 27:10). Amid the troubles, the mock crook husband steals from her all the money to gamble. This makes the woman very angry, and the wrath escalates to killing him. Later, she is prosecuted to serve a 12 years jail term in an insolated cell. Her son is taken into the custody of a sympathetic educator.

free essay typer




The director made sure to utilize both mise-en-scène and cinematography to communicate the message in the film. Concerning mise-en-scène, the director makes sure to put unto the scene all the necessary items that will reveal wrath and motivate the confrontation that ends with murder. For instance, when the husband comes into the room, he is from outside, where a group of people is seated, steamily gambling. The site actors are placed strategically to be quick to judge the woman immediately after her action, but not the man, which is hypocritical. Once in the room, he removes his hat and places it on the bed. This would help in the end so that the hat does not cushion the bottle’s impact when he is hit. Also, the man moves strategically behind the woman, giving her sufficient space for control. During the confrontation, both the woman and the man turn one another around, and viewers can easily see the confrontation. The room is purposefully set up to be small to maintain the confrontation. There is minimal space, for which a slight push would result in crashing against either the bed, door, wall, drawer or a shelf. As expected, when the woman is pushed, she crashes her head against the shelf. The bottle is placed on top of the drawer, such that she would have to grab it without the man noticing. Thus, there is barely any moment for the man to dodge since the room is small.

Regarding cinematography, Wu ensured that the film is manipulated to maintain control of the scene’s mood. According to Hansen, cinematography ensures the sensibility of a film (11). It entails the camera angles, distances, and movement when shooting the fil, and sound and visual editing in the laboratory. For instance, at the beginning of the scene, the woman calls the man from the group, and the camera focuses both at long-range and short-range. At long range, views notice the relatively unbothered attitude for both the man and his mates. Nevertheless, it is easier to notice the ire with the woman at a short-range and the seriousness of the context. For instance, she is breathing hard, and views can see her heavy breaths. Once they are in the room, the camera is positioned at the far end of the room to show the actor’s proximity and the level of control of the woman during the confrontation. The camera also focuses on the woman at close range to show her facial expression, which reveals wrath, as backed up by her words, “If you don’t give me back my money right now, we’ll all die” (Yonggang 68:54). In the laboratory, the view was edited such that the woman’s face is visible but surrounded by dark shadows. This enables viewers to read the mood and emotions of the woman from her facial expression. Camera angles and shooting distances change swiftly with actions so that the confrontation is viewed as realistic. Also, sounds change such that they synch with the mood and momentum of the action (Chattopadhyay 356). For instance, the sound rhythms slow when the woman is crashed against the shelf but increases in speed and pitch as she collects her self to hit the man. Once the man is hit, the sounds fade and stops to signify the end of something, which is the death of the man. The rising pitch of the sound also illustrates the surprise act of the people outside.


The film is creatively directed, shot, and edited using formal qualities to address the social issues in Shanghai’s cultural context in the 1930s. The film depicts hypocrisy and the aggression of evil from goodness in a cultural context that is judgmental and insensitive to challenges facing women. For instance, when the woman calls the man from the group, a man next to him looks at the woman with despise, and despite her anger is very apparent, they are all not bothered (Yonggang 67). The community judge for prostitution but fails to judge a man like the crook, who propagates prostitution and steals from the poor. Besides, the woman engages in prostitution due to unemployment; at a time, she must uphold maternal virtue (Harris 129). Saving money to educate her son is good, ending up with expulsion and blending her son a bastard. Besides, her submission to the man leads her into a manipulation trap and, eventually, domestic violence. Overall, her goodness leads to the emergence of evil, which puts her into prison.


Works Cited

Chattopadhyay, Budhaditya. “Reconstructing Atmospheres: Ambient Sound In Film And Media Production”. Communication And The Public, vol 2, no. 4, 2017, pp. 352-364. SAGE Publications, doi:10.1177/2057047317742171. Accessed 15 Oct 2020.

Hansen, Miriam Bratu. “Fallen Women, Rising Stars, New Horizons: Shanghai Silent Film As Vernacular Modernism”. Film Quarterly, vol 54, no. 1, 2000, pp. 10-22. University Of California Press, doi:10.2307/1213797. Accessed 15 Oct 2020.

Harris, Kristine. “The Goddess: Fallen Woman Of Shanghai”. Chinese Films In Focus II, 2008, pp. 128-136. British Film Institute, doi:10.1007/978-1-349-92280-2_17. Accessed 15 Oct 2020.

Yonggang, Wu. The Goodness. Shanghai’S Lyric Theatre, 1934.