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Raise the Red Lantern (1991)

Art House & International movie directed by Zhang Yimou

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When Roger Ebert called "Raise the Red Lantern" "breathtakingly beautiful," he wasn't exaggerating

  • May 19, 2006
Songlian (Gong li) is the fourth wife of the elusive Master. When she arrives in this secluded remote place the other wives pay attention, the film shows the female vanity and a competition to gain the master affection but why? This woman seems not to be in love of this man but I was most intrigued by the presence and personality of the young Songlian, she seems not to belong there, we know she is an educated lady who was sold as concubine. Songlian looks very delicate but she proves that she can be strong and even rebel.

The great Chinese Director Zhang Yimou did a wonderful job to focus on the beautiful, flawless face of the impressive Gong Li. The film begins when we see her face on the screen and a tear drops slowly. Other poignant scene is when her flute disappears...why she makes too much noise about it? Is the only gift she had from her late father?

When the winter arrives and the snow envelops this place it seems more remote and eerie then a series of tragedies occur and the heroine starts to fade slowly. I think that the ending is so sad but at the same time is like a fairy tale to me. Songlian looks like a ghost walking around, alone without a soul .She represents a tragic past that will always haunt this place.

I'm a big admirer of the actress Gong Li, all her films impressive me in different levels: `Jou Du'; The Story of Qiu Ju; Farewell to my Concubine. Her face and reactions is her treasure. Gong Li is beautiful, unique, talented and a vulnerable actress.

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More Raise the Red Lantern (1991) reviews
review by . March 28, 2011
Exotic and hopeless; how does one describe great sadness?
I've read only two or three commentaries by professional film critics that I think do justice to Raise the Red Lantern. Partly, this is due to the utterly foreign, cloistered culture we're observing. Partly, it's due to the intense but withheld emotions and motivations we gradually become aware of. Mainly, I think, it's due to the fact that deep sadness seldom can be adequately described, and the more we try, the less we convey.       Songlian (Gong Li), …
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About this movie


Zhang Yimou (Ju Dou) directed this fascinating, visually formal 1991 film about an educated woman (Gong Li) who is sent off to become the newest wife of a feudal nobleman in 1920s China. Nearly isolated in his spooky, palatial home, she develops relationships with several of the other wives and slowly becomes aware of a hideous legacy of punishment toward more willful women. The film has a brittle and dry quality that is deliberate, but also suggestive of Zhang working through various explorations of his own style (which he resolved in his next film,The Story of Qiu Ju). Gong Li, one of the world's great actresses, is superb.--Tom Keogh
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Cast: Gong Li
Director: Zhang Yimou
DVD Release Date: January 17, 2006
Runtime: 125 minutes
Studio: Razor Digital Entertainment
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