Another of the successful films of 1926 was this tale of children failing in one of the most important of the traditional Chinese filial duties, i.e. caring for their parents in the latter's old age. It was also one of the earlier pairings of Zhou Wenzhu, as the mother, and Wang Cilong as her eldest son in adulthood. They later married, then began destroying their careers and lives together through opium addiction.
Ersun Fu (1926) 儿孙福 (Mother's Happiness)
Da Zhonghua (Great China). B&W. Silent. 8 reels. Direction: Shi Dongshan. Screenplay: Zhu Shouju. Cinematography: Zhou Shimu, Xu Shengsan. Program notes: Zhou Shoujuan. Sets: Ma Shouhong. Cast: Xie Yunqing (He Mou, the father), Zhou Wenzhu (Mother He), Wang Cilong (Kaixiao, the elder son), Yang Jingwo (elder daughter-in-law), Wang Naidong (Boxiao, the younger son), Lin Ying (second daughter-in-law), Fu Jianqin (Adong, the elder daughter), Wang Zhengxin (elder son-in-law), Wang Xiuying (younger daughter), Mr. Wei Wei (father of the wealthy family), Ma Shouhong (the wealthy family's son), Tang Tianxiu (flirtaceous girl), Chen Shaohui (the younger son as a child).
A man named He Mou has four children, two sons and two daughters. He labors morning to night, disregarding the effect the physical toil has on his own health. When his wife pleads with him to slow down, take better care of himself, and spend more time with the family, he always tells her: "We have children, and when they have grown, they will take care of us." The couple often have a dispute about this. Before long her worst fears are realized, and her husband falls ill and dies from overwork. This leaves his widow no option but to go to work, in addition to raising her children alone.
[right, a little boy cries about not having enough time with his father (Xie Yunqing), and is comforted by his loving mother (Zhou Wenzhu).
Click on any image to enlarge.]
[left, the mother comforts two of her now fatherless children]
Ten years later, the children have grown, and all have married. The eldest son feels a filial responsibility to care for his mother, but his shrewish wife stops him. The younger son has a sickly wife, and so much of his income goes for her care he is unable to help. The second daughter was widowed early, and is still dependent on her mother. The eldest daughter married the spoiled son of a wealthy family, and has aquired his haughty outlook on life. She refuses to help. The second son is able to find a better job, with more income, so is able to send money home for a time. But he falls for a girl who lures him into a romantic fling. He squanders his extra income, which leads to his borrowing the money to send home. But the delay results in mother and daughter being evicted and homeless.
[right, a flirtation begins turning serious. Tang Tianxiu, left. and Wang Naidong]
The younger daughter goes to her sister's home to beg for help, but the elder's temper causes a quarrel, and nothing is resolved. When Bo Xiao's letter to his mother is returned as undeliverable, he goes to investigate, finds the home empty, and that the landlord and other creditors have seized his mother's furniture and other belongings to settle her debts. The four children frantically search the streets looking for their now-homeless mother, with no result. That night, the eldest son hears a moan outside his front door, and finds his mother lying on the ground. He takes her in and sends for the others. When the mother regains consciousness and sees her four children all together again, standing around her bed, she smiles happily and dies.