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Film Review: Raise the Red Lantern (China, 1991)
ReelViews ^ | James Berardinelli

Posted on 01/24/2020 2:14:35 PM PST by CondoleezzaProtege

Raise the Red Lantern is one of the more sublimely beautiful and openly disturbing films of the 1990s. It is also the best work to date turned in by the actress/director combination of Gong Li and Zhang Yimou -- and this includes other impressive films like Ju Dou and To Live...

The Chinese government didn't approve of Raise the Red Lantern...and it's easy to understand why. As structured, this film can be seen as a parable for the corruption of modern society in China. Songlian is the individual, the master is the government, and the customs of the house are the laws of the country. It's an archaic system that rewards those who play within the rules and destroys those who violate them. And, when an atrocity occurs (as it did in Tiannamen Square), not only is culpability denied, but the entire incident is claimed not to have happened.

Looking beyond the political meaning, Raise the Red Lantern offers a view of life within a closed, dictatorial social community. Much of the film deals with the ever-shifting balance of power between the various concubines. Beauty and sexual appeal are secondary attributes in a battle of wits that demands guile and duplicity. Bearing a male child is more critical to each woman's standing than possessing a pleasing countenance. While the master's favor determines which of his wives commands the most power, Zhang illustrates how easily he can be manipulated.

...Gong Li shines as Songlian, who struggles to be as cold and calculating as her "sisters" in playing the "game" until a tragedy destroys her composure (and possibly her sanity). Gong's performance makes it easy to sympathize with Songlian; she is our guide through the strange, ritual-saturated world...capable of enthralling audience members while they're watching it...haunting them for hours (or days) thereafter...

(Excerpt) Read more at reelviews.net ...


TOPICS: TV/Movies
KEYWORDS: china; chinesecinema; movies


1 posted on 01/24/2020 2:14:35 PM PST by CondoleezzaProtege
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To: CondoleezzaProtege

Excellent film. Well worth seeing.


2 posted on 01/24/2020 2:29:59 PM PST by Ciexyz (I have one issue and it's my economic well-being.)
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To: CondoleezzaProtege

I wonder which cloister was deadlier, China or Ottoman Turk? In any case, beware the deadly female!


3 posted on 01/24/2020 2:41:16 PM PST by SES1066 (Happiness is a depressed Washington, DC housing market!)
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To: CondoleezzaProtege

I saw that when it came out. Gong Li was outstandingly beautiful.


4 posted on 01/24/2020 3:27:10 PM PST by Tax-chick ("The diversity cult is destroying the very foundations of our civilization." ~ Heather MacDonald)
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To: CondoleezzaProtege

I watched it back in the early 90s, and I do remember it was beautiful. I don’t recall much of the plot, but I can still see certain images.


5 posted on 01/24/2020 8:21:51 PM PST by A_perfect_lady (The greatest wealth is to live content with little. -Plato)
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