This is what happens when your car breaks down on a Sunday morning and you have nothing else to do…
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.
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…
Whistle stop #21, Taiwan (I know it's China, but this way we can sneak in another one from China), on:
I didn’t know anything of director Yimou Zhang going in to this viewing. It was only after that I realized that I had seen him before with the star studded Waxu film, Hero. While I appreciated Hero for its splendid cinematography, I just couldn’t really bite into its WireFu, blade flailing, ‘you disrespect the sword’ story that’s at the heart of Wuxia . I’m sure that’s just me, as I’ve never really been a fan of genre.
Raise the Red Lantern is something else entirely. While the cinematography is still gorgeous, it doesn’t take…
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…
I've not much time to write this, so my thoughts are going to be more disjointed than usual:
I was reminded of Bluebeard as I watched this, and ultimately, it did not fail to fulfill the expectation created by that connection. Like in the legend of Bluebeard, multiple generations of women are housed in a castle by a dominant patriarch (though unlike the legend, these women live here all at once). Like in the legend, there is a room that means death. Like in the legend, traditions rule the house. Expectations dictate behavior, and deviation means chaos.
Unlike in the legend, the women of this story are all present in the same time, and their interactions form the bulk of…
This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.
I queued this one to my watch list when I heard it was visually stunning. Previously I had watched a few of Zhang Yimou best known films and I thought I have seen all his masterpieces until I saw this one.
I was never a big admirer of Yimou before watching this film but after, I changed my opinions about him. I never thought his fourth film would his best work (atleast in my opinion). It was not just visually stunning it was a captivating and transcendent experience. And boy that smile of Gong Li makes it even better.
A rich man himself a 19 year old educated (rare in that era) fourth wife. His highness has rules and customs…
This is the most emotionally repressed film I've ever seen.
The still frames. The symmetry. And the red lanterns that symbolize the patriarchal society in the older days. All that sound too much like an absurd dystopian future when you realize all these are not so distant as you thought.
It quite saddens me to say that out of recent note I've fallen out of love with the films of Zhang Yimou primarily because knowing what he was capable of when he was at the top of his game yet lately it seems as if he's sunken down to levels of melodrama that just don't very much ring towards my sensibilities. Yet in the 1990's is where I feel he has accomplished his finest efforts and if one of those films were to stand apart from all the rest, in my eyes, it's none other than Raise the Red Lantern. Prior to having watched Raise the Red Lantern I was admittedly unfamiliar with the films of Zhang Yimou, as it…
A mirror image of BLACK NARCISSUS; that film has women bound by chastity serving an unseen male God in eerie seclusion; Zhang Yimou's film has women bound by sex, serving a man who is very much flesh and blood, trapped by the architecture nonetheless. An aesthetic wonder, and in typical Zhang form, the final 20 minutes are Dev. A. Stating.
Doors and hallways are often used as framing devices in film, the tight composition is a visual and symbolic cue for entrapment and limitation in movement. Perhaps it’s not surprising to find Zhang Yimou shoot Songlian (Gong Li) standing or walking within the frames of multiple doors and corridors. This is in line with Songlian’s life, imprisoned within the castle of her suitor playing fourth wife in a scenario reminiscent of Kobo Abe’s The Woman in the Dunes. As with the Japanese novel, Raise the Red Lantern paints a vivid oppressive reality to draw parallels with feudalistic traditions and systems of misogyny. Gong Li’s emotional portrayal and the plot’s heavy undertones are appropriately matched with Zhang’s penchant for bold colors and Zhao Jiping’s similarly striking score for.
In 1920 China, a young woman with limited options becomes the concubine of a wealthy man who lives in an enormous, walled-off compound. She enters a bizarre, insular world that she will never be allowed to leave, one that has functioned for generations according to archaic rituals. Tellingly, Raise the Red Lantern never shows the face of the wealthy man in close-up - he hardly registers as an individual, more as a representative of an ancient and unyielding patriarchal system. Instead, Raise the Red Lantern focuses on his new concubine, Songlian, and his three other mistresses. Each night red lanterns are raised outside one of their rooms, signifying that the master will be spending the night there - the women…
High-rated movies with very few views. Suggestions are welcome.
All the films from all the editions, including those subsequently removed, presently totalling 1177. An easy way of seeing how…