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

PG  |   |  Drama  |  20 December 1991 (France)
8.3
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Ratings: 8.3/10 from 19,123 users  
Reviews: 101 user | 46 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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Title: Raise the Red Lantern (1991)

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Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 22 wins & 5 nominations. See more awards »
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
...
Saifei He ...
Meishan (Third Wife)
Cuifen Cao ...
Zhuoyan (Second Wife)
Jingwu Ma ...
The Master
Qi Zhao ...
Housekeeper
Lin Kong ...
Yan'er
Shuyuan Jin ...
Yuru (First Wife)
Weimin Ding ...
Zhengyin Cao ...
Old servant
Zhihgang Cui ...
Dr. Gao
Chu Xiao ...
Feipu
Edit

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

Certificate:

PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

| |

Language:

Release Date:

20 December 1991 (France)  »

Also Known As:

Raise the Red Lantern  »

Box Office

Gross:

$2,603,061 (USA)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

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

Quotes

The Third Concubine: Good or bad, it's all playacting. If you act well, you can fool other people; if you do it badly, you can only fool yourself, and when you can't even fool yourself, you just can fool the ghosts.
See more »

Connections

Featured in The Turandot Project (2000) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Engrossing from the first moments
3 March 2004 | by (Kansas City, Missouri, USA) – See all my reviews

My interest was maintained throughout every minute of this rather long film. I don't remember when I've seen another film in which every single role was played to perfection. (Incidentally, this wonderfully believable acting seems to occur in at least some, if not most, of the roles in every Chinese movie I see, from the mainland or otherwise.)

The story is one of classical simplicity, in in large part presented with the same classical, clear quality. The interplay of passion, jealousy, and revenge is reminiscent of Shakespeare, but, for me, more entertaining--if it's proper to speak of such ultimately somber and even horrifying subject matter as entertainment.

I unhesitatingly gave a vote of ten, and noticed that a full 33% of voters so far had done the same--very unusual.

When Roger Ebert called "Raise the Red Lantern" "breathtakingly beautiful," he wasn't exaggerating. But beyond its beauty, its moral seriousness, the fact that not for a moment is it "dumbed down" in the regrettable Hollywood fashion, its superb acting, and its almost unbelievably perfect pacing, make it a rare, rare experience.

"Red Sorghum," the only other Zhang Yimou film I've seen so far, I found somewhat propagandistic but gripping and visually stunning (even more so than "Raise the Red Lantern.") I will be making an effort to see more of this director's fairly extensive body of work.

It's a shame major theater chains don't schedule movies of this caliber instead of the torrent of commercialized Hollywood trash they foist on the public, which, alas, seems only too eager to wallow in more and more of it.


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