“China, 1920. One Master, Four Wives…One Fate.“
Only 19, beautiful and educated Songlian (Gong Li) finds herself married off to a powerful lord and totally confined to the old man’s palatial complex. The competition between the other three wives is ruthless, as their master’s attention carries power, status and privilege. This unbridled paranoia and intrigue descends into startling and tragic results.
Raise The Red Lantern is a seductive yet disturbing parable about the exercise of control. A film of voluptuous physical beauty and angry passions it captures the scent of sex, jealousy and tragedy within the bounded world of a powerful family during China’s 1920’s. Zhang Yimou builds the atmosphere slowly – deftly contrasting the apparatus of control over the physical, mental, sexual and emotional lives of women in a hierarchical Chinese society, against the rhythms of the natural world surrounding them. Like few films ever in cinema history, the sublime use of the colours and textures become almost like characters themselves in the way they contribute to the emotion of this haunting tale. Raise The Red Lantern is masterpiece is of subtle excellence. The subject of great political controversy in China upon its release, Raise The Red Lantern was viewed as a veiled allegory against the authoritarianism of late 20th-century China. No Chinese film had a more startling effect in the west in the 1990’s.