MovieChat Forums > Yi ge dou bu neng shao (1999) Discussion > Notice how the sub was only motivated by...

Notice how the sub was only motivated by money?


Wei Minzhi, the 10-year-old substitute teacher seems to only care about one thing: money. And to that end, she'll do anything to get it, including the following:

1) Endlessly chase a tractor carrying the local village head and Mr. Gao in order to get her 50 yuan promised payment;

2) Hide the little girl, and then chase the SUV that comes to take her away to a different school in order to guarantee that she'll get the extra 10 yuan when Mr. Gao gets back for having perfect attendance -- Not one less;

3) Basically walk to the next biggest city and do everything from making 100 wanted posters by hand and waiting a day and a half in front of the TV station stopping everyone with glasses in order to talk to the station manager, with hopes of getting the word about her lost pupil, who threatens to deprive her of the 10 yuan bonus for holding on to all her students at the end of the month.

However, notice Wei doesn't seem to care one iota about the rest of her duties, can't teach herself out of a paperbag, doesn't really care about her students and basically ignores them, cos there ain't any money in it. She, like a typical money-grubbing peasant is only focused on things that will make her a quick yuan. And actually teaching, which she was ostensibly hired to do, is not part of it. Anyone agree that she was a greedy little chick, and not necessarily motivated by altruism or things of a higher nature, like compassion or concern for the lost student?

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[deleted]

I agree but to a certain extent. In the beginning yeah, it's obvious all she wants is money. But the journey throughout the film I think she begins to care about the student. After all, why would she cry on TV?

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Give me a break, if try to keep the barely enough money to let her find her student is greedy, then what is not?

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[deleted]

Interesting thoughts about this movie. I disagree with you for the most part, but I think your pointing out the money part from this movie is important. I think this film shows, in bold and subtle ways, how the idea of money, and capitalism, or market economy, has brought a strong impact to rural China, to the innocent and ignorant children, to its educational system, to the remote villages. Indeed, we can say the whole story evolves around money.

But I disagree that the little sub teacher, Wei, has no compassion or concern for the lost student. To me, this film shows she has a great deal of compassion for the boy student, Zhang. Her persistent search, her teary eyes staring at the camera, her happiness after find the lost boy, all so obviously demonstrate her strong sense of responsibility and her caring for the student(s).

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It only shows how important a day's wage is to these rural people, Chinese folks who are ultra-poor compared to, say, Americans or most Europeans.

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[deleted]

*remembering the part where they all shared the 2 Coca-Colas*

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The money is important to her at first. As well it should be, because the threat of not getting paid at all was very real. Have you ever worked a job and not expected to get paid for it? Of course not. But, as the film moves on, money is obviously not her motivating factor.

We can see that the money is NOT terribly important, as she spends far more than her 10 yuan to bring the child back.

And you claim that she does not do a god job of teaching. Her instrucitons were: keep the children in class all day, copy lessons on the board, and don't lose any of the children. She worked as hard as she possibly could to accomplish these goals.

Also, the movie serves as a commentary on the education system in rural China. The fact that a 13 year old girl is teaching a class with all ages of children and one textbook should tip you off that standards of education are not quite the same. You can see by the mayor's reaction to her math lesson that she is in fact teaching the children in an acceptable way.

You can certainly take this movie at the level that you did, but there is a lot more to it than you saw in your reading.

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There may be a lot more to this movie but in comparison to Zhang Yimou's other works, it is fairly weak in it's execution.

Wei is obviously not a very good teacher (yet) and cares about little else than the money at the beginning of the film. If she does change her values towards the end (which I guess she does because she's crying and everything), it seems forced as their is nothing to suggest why she suddenly cares about finding this one boy (other than to get her monetary bonus). She is obviously determined in some of the things she does but also neglects her responsibility for the rest of the kids when she goes into the city for days...frankly, this borders on stupidity (as do some of her actions in the city).

The story was an interesting portrait of the differences in rural and city lives, but this subject was covered far better in The Story of Qiu Ju as, there, the main character's actions were far better developed and linear than in this film. As a statement of rural Chinese life, the message is powerful; however, as a film it is a disjointed and (unfortunately) unaffecting look at a specific event.

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Who in their right mind will walk numerous miles to and from the city, 2 days incessantly pestering people, 15 yuan earned from carrying bricks, devise how to earn 60.5 yuan, just to earn a 10 yuan bonus? Big difference between chasing a van carrying the fast runner or the tractor and the former.

Should be obvious there are other more important factors in play, possibly a desire to be a good teacher, or more likely just a stubborn streak in her.

Think the film is obvious that she's a bad teacher because she's 13 years old and has no formal teaching education or experience. Not because she thinks she doesn't need to do anything to earn the 50 yuan. The film would be a lot more unrealistic if she was a good teacher.

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I think that she's just a little girl who is not qualified or prepared for the position she is stuck with. She is trying the best she can to do her duty. She just wants things to go smoothly. There heavy aspect of losing face in Chinese culture.

Yes, I do think the money is a motivation for her. But it is not central to the point. This movie doesn't ask: "What would motivate a young girl to teach a school full of kids in a rural village in China?" It asks: "Why should a girl this young have to teach a school full of kids in a rural village in China?"

It tries to show the heartbreaking state of education in some areas of China. If she was a total brat it would botch the message here. She makes a valiant effort to do what's right... like a thin wooden plank barely supporting a large bridge.

If you see a child working at a steel mill, you don't first ask what was his personal motivation to work there... you ask why is he there, and what kind of society would permit this to happen!

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The OP have missed completely the mark.

How on earth could he say that Wei Minzhi is only motivated by money when she spends til' her last Yuan trying to find Zhang Huike?
Can't he (OP) think that perhaps the real motivation behind the teacher Wei is the fact that she feels as her duty to care for all the kids?
Why somebody would willingly experience hunger, thirst, humiliations, to sleep in the streets, etc. just to gain an extra bonus of 10 Yuans?
If she were that selfish she wouldn't care about the lost boy, after all it wasn't her fault that he had to leave the village. No one could blame her, not even professor Gao who already "lost" 10 kids before she arrived.

Some people from the so called "1st world" can only see the world thru the eyes of the almighty dollar. They can't think that people can help another people just because they feel they have to do it, not thinking on economical profits.
I pity them.

BTW as some other poster have expressed, Wei Minzhi is a BAD teacher because she is ONLY 13 yo! She shouldn't be teaching younger kids, she should be attending school herself!
How come you can blame a girl as if she were an adult, as if she were a teacher with a college degree? How?
Considering the extreme poverty she had to deal with, is even more admirable what she did.



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I thought there was one part which says something like, "Take my 50 yuan" or something like that?

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