Every film from Roger Ebert's "Great Movies" essays.
Raise the Red Lantern
China in the 1920's. After her father's death, 19 year old Songlian is forced to marry the much older lord of a powerful family. With three wives already, each living in a separate house within the great castle, there is fierce competition for his attention and the privileges that are gained. This competition gets out of hand...
Film #16 of Project 90
” If you act well, you can fool other people; if you do it badly, you can only fool yourself.”
Zhang Yimou turns his lens toward a world where the happiness and sadness of women rely on the way men act, feel and think, but instead of putting one of those mighty men at the center of his film he bravely focuses on those unfortunate women and calmly shows us the inevitable tragedy of their life. Raise the Red Lantern is the sorrowful story of a group of women’s lives who are trapped in a life build of unfulfilled wishes, unspoken desires, jealousy, failure, humiliation and spoiled prides.
Yimou’s main success is that without getting…
For my two cents, Raise the Red Lantern is Zhang Yimou's best film, with the also excellent To Live running a very close second. Gong Li, playing the newly recruited fourth wife of a wealthy 1920s nobleman, is simply stunning, both in appearance and as a then up-and-coming actress. He Saifei also shines in her performance as the third wife and it is her heartbreaking story that really makes this film the masterpiece that it is.
Centered on the intrigues between the three younger wives and, to a lesser degree, an unlucky servant girl (perhaps the film's most tragic character) who soon finds herself far out of her league, the slowly evolving, but immaculately paced, plot is sure to tug at the heartstrings of even the most jaded of cinephiles. Beautifully shot and perfectly crafted, Raise the Red Lantern is simply a must-see film.
Now, the story in itself, though well told and better acted, would not have been enough for me to love this film. The life of a concubine just doesn't do much for me, Gong Li being magnificent aside.
But. Raise the Red Lantern is a heavywight contender in the category "best cinematography in the history of man". If pressed I'd say that Yimou had a finger in that as well, as his cinematographer hasn't shone this brightly since (but did get his "hands" on a Woody Allen film or two). On top of the cinematography the mise en scene is perfection brought to life, and it gives off this atmospheric sense of the past, with all it's…
But in the end the choice of re-watching Raise the Red Lantern this weekend is simply due to the death of Roger Ebert, and I felt it appropriate to select one of his chosen Great Movies this time around. I'll also use three quotes from his first review of the movie, the first being the same one I used for my Push 10 notes;
Yimou uses the bold, bright colors of Ju Dou again this time; his film was shot in the classic three-strip Technicolor process, now abandoned by Hollywood, which allows a richness of reds and yellows…
Film #2 Of The May 30 Days, 30 Countries Challenge - China
"She has the face of Buddha and the heart of a scorpion."
#77 on Berken's Favorite Movies Of All Time
I'm surprised that this isn't banned in China considering what a savage evisceration of tradition in a patriarchal society it is. Likewise, I wasn't expecting such a psychologically accurate portrayal of the moral gray area being boxed in by an inequitable tradition can drive people to. Being trapped by tradition is not unlike being stranded on an island separated from society, the film seems to argue, and just as likely to lead to cannibalism (okay, metaphorical in this case, but still).
Crucially, the film is able to allow…
Raise the Red Lantern follows a girl who accepts to be a man's fourth wife and gets caught in a web of intrigues and lies.
Although we never see anything beyond the castle grounds, the movie has beautiful shots and scenes. The soundtrack is really beautiful too and well connected with the correspondent scenes.
The movie has a slow pace, but it's never boring and the plot is interesting and show us the complex relationship between the four wives. The role and expectations of a woman in the 20's are of great importance too. The acting is really good, specially the lead actress, Gong Li.
Raise of the Red Lantern is a really good movie worth watching.
It's good because it always remains focused on the lives of the women and on the system that limits them and imprisons them and strips them of their humanity. Their husband is barely even characterized. There's a point in the film where Songlian says that she and the other three wives may as well be dogs, cats, or rats. She says a few other things (watch the movie), and this short segment of dialogue encapsulates the dehumanization they experience. The concubines exist within a system that not only limits their autonomy, but also causes them to be at each other's throats, so they won't step out of line and challenge the master too much. There's a kind of silent brutality that takes place against these women within the rules they must follow and the roles they're expected to fulfill. They're treated like they don't have minds of their own. All of this would be depressing and maddening.
A war movie that isn't really a war movie.
This whole movie was just really really heartbreaking, I felt so bad for the main character from the jump. The opening shot of the film is a close-up on her expressionless face: she has tears in her eyes and is having a conversation about marriage with her mother, who is off screen.That shot just sets the tone for the whole film.
This film is also superbly acted and shot and lit and decorated. I mean it all works together so well. There’s a lot of repetition both in terms of props and architecture. It’s also rife with geometric patterns and Yimou makes COMPLETE use of the foreground mid-ground and background, it it makes the whole thing feel like a Yasujiro Ozu/Josef von Sternberg mash-up.
that feeling when a situation "unfolds" for you along with the protagonist, producing concurrent wonder and dread.
a viewing pleasure.
After seeing “Hero” I wanted to see some of the other films by Zhang Yimou. In Raise the Red Lantern we see the very formalized story of a woman who is a concubine to a wealthy man and becomes his fourth mistress. As we see the world revealed through her eyes it becomes more and more complex as it moves to an inevitable conclusion. Stunningly beautiful to look at, the film moves at a deliberate and precise pace with complex rhythms and interactions between characters who all seem to be trapped within rules and roles. A fascinating and entertaining film.
I'D REALLY LIKE A BLU RAY COPY OF THIS PLEASE.
Love, sex, and power
All meet and converge upon
Oh my god. The shade! So much shade. AHAHAHA! That's what this movie is all about. Cutthroat, backstabbing, scheming, underhanded, shady bitches! XD I love this movie. Gong Li forever!
hmm. weird ending.
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