Thursday, May 19, 2011

Raise the Red Lantern

Zhang Yimou, China, 1991 (8.7*)
In 20's China, nineteen-yr old Songlian, wonderfully played by Gong Li, China's best actress, is forced to marry a wealthy merchant after her father's death. The fifty-yr old 'Master', Jingwu Ma, already has three wives in a strictly ritualistic and traditional household. Each wife has her own home within the family compound, with the wives grouped together.

Each night he decides which wife to spend the night with, and the servants place a red lantern in front of that door. With favoritism from the master, wives gain more status within their own group, and of course any new wife is looked upon with suspicion and immediately jealousy. First Wife (Shuyuan Jin) tries to maintain her own superiority among the women; at least for seniority, her position can never be usurped. However, with each new wife, she risks losing more of the Master's favor, his time, and at the same time faces possible unions among her spousal rivals.

This is an interesting look at a culture not found in the west. As such, it was the first of Zhang Yimou's films to find large interest on our side of the planet. Add to that gorgeous cinematography, and the interest of women being considered little more than property in a patriarchal society, where their paths are chosen for them, and their lives are held under rigid and strict traditions, and you have a film that spoke of universal concerns and values.

Lantern won 15 awards, including 10 for best foreign film, a couple more went to the beautiful cinematography of Fei Zhao

For more of Zhang Yimou, see these reviews:
Hero (2002) China [my favorite]
House of Flying Daggers (2004) China
The Road Home (1999) China
To Live (1994) China [2nd favorite]
Not One Less (1999) China


About Me

My photo
Artist, photographer, composer, author, blogger, metaphysician, herbalist

About This Blog

This is our new template: ProBlogger.

These are the individual film reviews of what I'm considering the best 1000 dvds available, whether they are films, miniseries, or live concerts. Rather than rush out all 1000 at once, I'm doing them over time to allow inclusion of new releases - in fact, 2008 has the most of any year so far, 30 titles in all; that was a very good year for films, one of the best ever.

Author at EZines

  © Blogger templates ProBlogger Template by 2008

Back to TOP