Friday, November 4, 2011

Snow Flower and the Secret Fan

Has anyone seen this movie? Snow Flower and the Secret Fan? I watched it last night and it is funny because although the reviews were terrible, I really enjoyed it. Perhaps that is because I saw the movie before reading the book?

The movie was adapted from Lisa See's best selling novel of the same name.  It is the story of love, friendship and life between two spiritual sisters in the 19th century and their descendants in the 21st century. Snow flower and Lily are two little girls, one little girl is from a formerly wealthy family and the other is from a poor family. Early on they are forced to have their feet bound so that in the future the matchmaker can make them a good match. When they are seven years old they meet and become one another's "laotong"( I am not sure of the translation of this but it seems like a form of) "soul sisters" or blood sisters. They grow up in isolation and the way they communicate with one another is to write in a secret language on fans. These two little ones go on to live totally opposite lives but their love and friendship endures and they communicate their entire lives on these fans.

Meanwhile, in the 21st century, Nina and Sophia, who are the descendants of Snow flower and Lily, connect as children and have a special bond of  friendship and love that causes them to make sacrifices for one another in the hopes that they will each be happy. This bond is strained by time distance, careers and of course love lives.

As I said, I liked the movie, if you are not swayed by the story you can at least have a bit of a glimpse of Hugh Jackman who plays a small part in the movie. The critics of the movie complained that the enduring story of love and friendship from the book is lost with the introduction of the modern characters. I have the book on order so I will let you know after I read it which I liked better.

Honestly, I was looking for something entertaining and it was. There is no gratuitous sex, no swearing and the only violence is a revolution.

For those of you who are not familiar with this practice, the feet of female children were bound, usually at 5 years old,  sometimes younger. The procedure entailed folding the four toes under the big toe and binding it with cloth, the wraps were tightened every day so that they could not grow. The goal being that within two years a child's foot would be 3 to 4 inches, and look like a Lotus flower, apparently this was the perfect size, (this by the way is about the size of a pack of cigarettes). It is said that small feet are erotic, and cause the women to take smaller steps, and sway as they walk, which is apparently seductive. In addition, the binding and small feet cause the women to be  unable to work. This signified that you were very wealthy because the only people who could afford not to work were women who were married to wealthy men, or concubines. The small feet made the women unstable, and unable to run therefore, way to control them. They cannot run from their husband when he beats them and they cannot walk long distances which kept them at home.

I have to be honest with you, I have see the photos of this painful practice, and it is disturbing. I really cannot figure out how this is a turn on, little tiny feet that are misshapen and look like the hoofs of little animals. It  is estimated that somewhere between a billion and four billion women in China had bound feet between the 10th and 20th centuries.

Foot binding was outlawed in 1912, although the practice continued for a very long time after that, especially in rural China where women were told they would not find very good prospects for marriage without it. The last plant that manufactured these special shoes was closed in 1998! If you would like to know more about the practice of binding feet go here, you can read the stories of modern women who still live and work with these tiny feet. The stories are so interesting. The photos, well, they are a little disturbing.

Have you seen the movie? Or read the book? Let me know, I would love to know your opinion!

Happy Friday! Enjoy the weekend!


  1. Hi Elizabeth...I have the book but have not read it yet. It was interesting to read your thoughts on the movie. I am intrigued it like Memoir of a Geisha? I read the book first, loved it but was not keen on the movie.

    I watched House of Spirits last night, I have not read the book. I think they tried to do to much in the i want to read the book.

    It all gets so confusing!!

    Thanks so much for your lovely comment Elizabeth!

    Jeanne xx

  2. Hey Elizabeth....yes read the book and enjoyed it, not over the top I must read it again liking it but really liked it and enjoyed it but like you was disturbed by the practice of foot binding and to this day, it knaws away at me as to how and why this was/is done. CRAZY if you ask me!
    I did want to see the movie, had a movie date with a friend but it didnt' work will see it on video. I look forward to it, from the other two friends that saw it and read the book, they both liked the book a little better but thought them movie, loosely based on the book was good.
    I look forward to getting to watch it. I am always fascinated with anything having to do with China and the Far East in general.
    Have a great weekend!!

  3. Oh Elizabeth,
    I remember learning about foot binding in high school. Disturbing and very sad indeed.

    This sounds like a good story. I love the idea of soul sisters. Glad you liked the film!

    - Irina

  4. Elizabeth,
    I read the book in my book group and we all enjoyed it. I didn't see the movie so I'll have to rent it. Interesting that they introduced modern characters.
    Karen at Garden, Home and Party

  5. I want to see this
    with my daughter;
    I loved the book!
    Thanks for your
    xx Suzanne


Thank you for coming to visit Pine Cones and Acorns. Your comments are greatly appreciated. Although I try to come to visit every blog that comments sometimes I just do not get the chance, but I do try to comment here.