If Er Hou (Tian Tian) had any luck at all it would be bad luck.
Icarus Films announced this past week that Chinese filmmaker Cai Chengjie’s social commentary tale, The Widowed Witch, will be making its domestic DVD debut on Jan. 22.
We pick up her story of sorrow after just being blown up (tossed about) when her illegal fireworks factory went up in a fiery blaze, taking her husband with it. Bad enough, but Er Hou is now obviously cursed, so say relatives and fellow villagers. One dead husband, OK, it happens. Two, maybe it is just fate, or bad luck, but with this latest death, that’s three and it has become clear that she is a witch; cursed.
She is cast out with nothing more than an old delivery van and the clothes on her back. Er Hou makes the rounds to former “relatives” (with three former husbands she has a few) with little luck — she is actually raped for her trouble — but does end up with a companion, her recently deceased husband’s teenage mute brother (he too is cursed).
Through a series of almost comical events, her being a cursed witch actually works to her advantage as she takes on the trappings of a gifted shaman. It’s a living, traveling the wintery countryside dealing in the “supernatural.” Is this a deceit that can be maintained … or will one slip proved to be a “trick” too far?
Director Cai Chengjie’s The Widowed Witch is a clever mix of superstitious mysticism and social commentary on a largely patriarchal society. By mixing color and black and white sequences, the mesmerizing tale of Er Hou unfolds with a stark beauty that often belies the dangers ever present in rural China.
The Widowed Witch is presented in Mandarin with English subtitles.