Raise the Red Lantern (1991)
"Da hong deng long gao gao gua" (original title)

PG  |   |  Drama  |  20 December 1991 (France)
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Ratings: 8.2/10 from 19,814 users  
Reviews: 101 user | 47 critic

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.



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Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 19 wins & 8 nominations. See more awards »
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Complete credited cast:
Saifei He ...
Meishan (Third Wife)
Cuifen Cao ...
Zhuoyan (Second Wife)
Jingwu Ma ...
The Master
Qi Zhao ...
Lin Kong ...
Shuyuan Jin ...
Yuru (First Wife)
Weimin Ding ...
Zhengyin Cao ...
Old servant
Zhihgang Cui ...
Dr. Gao
Chu Xiao ...


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


China, 1920. One master, four wives.




PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:




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Release Date:

20 December 1991 (France)  »

Also Known As:

Raise the Red Lantern  »

Box Office


$2,603,061 (USA)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Banned in China for a short time in the early 1990s. See more »


Songlian's mother: Rich man? If you marry a rich man, you will only be his concubine.
Songlian: Let me be a concubine. Isn't that the fate of a woman?
See more »


Referenced in About Schmidt (2002) See more »

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User Reviews

A Lyrical Beauty
26 December 2000 | by (Washington, DC) – See all my reviews

"Raise the Red Lantern" is set at a Chinese baronial estate, the time, the 1920s. But, as the family-servant dynamics are placed on display, the viewer begins to feel it could be a thousand years earlier. The story is shown through the eyes of a young college-dropout played by Gong Li. Family misfortune has forced her into concubinage as the "fourth mistress" of the Chinese lord. A headstrong woman, her relationship with the lord's household, especially the other three mistresses, form the basis of the story. But it's telling is as important as the story itself. This is a beautiful, well-acted, well-directed movie. Slow-paced, it ingratiates itself with you, drawing you in deeper and deeper. I can't think of anything that warrants improvement. A masterpiece.

39 of 45 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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