8.2/10
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104 user 49 critic

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:

Writers:

(novel),
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Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 20 wins & 9 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 | History | Romance

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

Included among the "1,001 Movies You Must See Before You Die," edited by Steven Schneider. See more »

Quotes

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?
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User Reviews

Exquisite film from a master storyteller
17 October 1998 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Gong Li is utterly perfect as Songlian, the youngest 4th wife of a great landowner in 1920's China. When she joins the household of the Master, with his 3 other wives and numerous servants, she is little prepared for the infinite under-currents and jealousies of the wives and the continuous baiting of the servants. She is put in a house of her own off the main courtyard of the rambling estate, a vast maze of connected buildings. But the wives are not quite out of earshot of each other, and what can be overheard feeds the hate among them. When the Master has chosen the wife he wishes to spend the night with, huge red lanterns are lit and hung around the outside and inside of the house of that wife and she is given a foot massage with small weighted silver hammers whose castanet-like sounds echo through the entire complex, and they serve as an overt display to the others that they were not good enough on that day to win his affections and must try harder the next day. As each jockeys for the Master's attention, Songlian is at first expertly played against the other women but eventually learns to scheme and conspire as well as they. She is never sure exactly which of the other wives is her enemy or her friend, and the situation seems to change daily. After she makes a grand power play that fails, in part because of a jealous young female servant, she is effectively in exile for a time. However, a terrible, centuries-old custom will unfold in one of the topmost, locked rooms of the complex during her exile, and Songlian eventually discovers the dreadful secret. This is a masterful film which only gets better on each viewing.


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