Raise the Red Lantern

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Raise the Red Lantern (simplified Chinese: 大红灯笼高高挂; traditional Chinese: 大紅燈籠高高掛; pinyin: Dà Hóng Dēnglóng Gāogāo Guà) is an award-winning 1991 Chinese-Hong Kong-Taiwanese co-produced film, directed by Zhang Yimou and starring Gong Li. It is an adaption by Ni Zhen of the 1990 novel Wives and Concubines by Su Tong. The film was later adapted into an acclaimed ballet of the same title by the National Ballet of China, also directed by Zhang.

Set in the 1920s, the film tells the story of a young woman who becomes one of the concubines of a wealthy man during the Warlord Era. It is noted for its opulent visuals and sumptuous use of colours. The film was shot in Qiao's Compound near the ancient city of Pingyao, in Shanxi Province. Although the screenplay was approved by Chinese censors,[2] the final version of the film was banned in China for a period.[3][4] Some film critics have interpreted the film as a veiled allegory against authoritarianism.[5]

Contents

Plot

The film is set in 1920s China during the warlord era, years before the Chinese Civil War. Nineteen-year-old Songlian (頌蓮, played by Gong Li), whose father has recently died and left the family bankrupt, marries into the wealthy Chen family, becoming the fourth wife or rather the third concubine — or, as she is referred to, the Fourth Mistress — of the household. Arriving at the palatial abode, she is at first treated like royalty, receiving sensuous foot massages and brightly-lit red lanterns, as well as a visit from her husband, Master Chen (Ma Jingwu), the master of the house, whose face is never clearly shown.

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