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Raise the Red Lantern (1991)

Da hong deng long gao gao gua (original title)
A young woman becomes the fourth wife of a wealthy lord, and must learn to live with the strict rules and tensions within the household.

Director:

Yimou Zhang

Writers:

Su Tong (original novel "Wives and Concubines" by), Ni Zhen (scriptwriter)
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Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 21 wins & 12 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Li Gong ... Songlian
Saifei He ... Meishan (Third Wife)
Jingwu Ma Jingwu Ma ... The Master
Cuifen Cao Cuifen Cao ... Zhuoyan (Second Wife)
Qi Zhao Qi Zhao ... Housekeeper
Lin Kong Lin Kong ... Yan'er
Shuyuan Jin Shuyuan Jin ... Yuru (First Wife)
Weimin Ding Weimin Ding ... Songlian's Mother (voice)
Zhengyin Cao Zhengyin Cao ... Old Servant
Zhigang Cui Zhigang Cui ... Dr. Gao (as Zhihgang Cui)
Chu Xiao Chu Xiao ... Feipu
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Storyline

China in the 1920's. After her father's death, nineteen year old Songlian is forced to marry Chen Zuoqian, the lord of a powerful family. Fifty year old Chen has already three wives, each of them living in separate houses within the great castle. The competition between the wives is tough, as their master's attention carries power, status and privilege. Each night Chen must decide with which wife to spend the night and a red lantern is lit in front of the house of his choice. And each wife schemes and plots to make sure it's hers. However, things get out of hand... Written by Mattias Pettersson <seaman@sbbs.se>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

China, 1920. One master, four wives.

Genres:

Drama | History | Romance

Certificate:

PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

China | Hong Kong | Taiwan

Language:

Mandarin

Release Date:

18 December 1991 (Italy) See more »

Also Known As:

Raise the Red Lantern See more »

Filming Locations:

Taiyuan, Shanxi, China

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Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$22,554, 15 March 1992

Gross USA:

$2,603,061

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$2,603,061
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby Stereo

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

This film was banned in China for a short time in the early 1990s. See more »

Goofs

Around 01:18:59, there is a lot of smoke in front of the third wife. And there is almost no smoke in front of the second one. See more »

Quotes

The Third Concubine: She has the face of Buddha and the heart of a scorpian
See more »

Connections

Referenced in About Schmidt (2002) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Beyond words
7 November 2000 | by jeff_strykerSee all my reviews

This movie has it all, betrayal, conflict and tragedy. I have to say that I couldn't live without it, effectively anyway. The political criticisms tear at the spine of the film and the beauty of it in such an intimate setting is outstanding. The use of such a rich, three dimensional setting defies what we have been taught by the mainstream as being beautiful and sets a standard on a budget that I would love to be aware of, that all Hollywood movies should aspire to. It shows us that film, real film that is, does not need $100 million to look good, rather the combination of a haunting setting in the middle of vastness and the equally haunting beauty of it's star, Gong Li, but at it's heart the house itself resembles a claustrophobic pot, boiling over the surface.

This is in my opinion, Zhang Yimou's greatest film, it is a triumph in film form and narrative. The haunting sounds of flutes, a significant visual and audio element that has a mythical quality due to it's importance to Songlian and becomes an unattainable item of the gods when it is removed from existence when it is burned, becoming a tragic reminder on the attempts to vanquish the personalities of not only Songlian but all of the concubines. It's slow burning nature may repel the masses but anyone who can get a copy, do so without fail, you will never regret it. I cannot stress the importance of this film, we may see it as a study on the oppression of women in China, but this is universal, we westerners once did the same thing not too long ago.

For me the cinematography is what sells the film, it is the best I have ever seen and ever will. If there is ever a film to promote the use of the three strip technicolour process once again, this is it. Long after you have finished your post film analysis, the light from the red lanterns will still be searing in your eyes.


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