Raise the Red Lantern (1992)

November 17, 2003 • Film, Reviews

Director: Zhang Yimou
Producer: Fu-Sheng Chiu, Hsiao-hsien Hou, Wenze Zhang
Writer: Su Tong (novel), Ni Zhen

Cast: Li Gong, Caifei He, Jingwu Ma, Cuifen Cao, Qi Zhao

Running Time: 125 min.

Plot: China in the 1920’s. After her fathers death, nineteen year old Songlian is forced to marry Chen Zuoqian, the lord of a powerfull family. Fifty year old Chen has already three wives, each of them living in seperate houses within the great castle. The competition between the wives is tough, as their master’s attention carries power, status and priviligies. Each night Chen must decide which wife to spend the night with and a red lantern is lit infront of the house of his choice. And each wife schemes and plots to make sure it’s hers. However, things get out of hand…

World-reknowned filmmaker Zhang Yimou’s best movie. Period. Zhang’s particular style, often responsible for killing the momentum of a story, is perfectly suited for this material. He makes this story of concubines jockeying for power in the house of a rich lord into a suffocatting spectacle, indicting an age-old system of patriarchy point-blank. Zhang’s then-lover Gong Li gives the performance of her life, establishing a fierce, defiant reputation that has stuck with her ever since. One of the most important movies to come out of the Mainland Chinese “Fifth Generation” of filmmakers.

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