The film's title has several layers of meaning. On one level, it is a description of the nameless character played by Ruan Lingyu, who is equated with a protective goddess in the film. On another level, the title refers to her character's occupation, in that the Chinese term shennĂ¼, while primarily meaning "goddess", also was an old euphemism for a prostitute.

Included among the "1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die", edited by Steven Schneider.