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 19,796 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
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Did You Know?


"The Master's" face is never seen. It is either obscured behind thin curtains or out of shot. See more »


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 »


Referenced in About Schmidt (2002) See more »

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User Reviews

Exquisite haunting whispers of China
29 November 2004 | by (Chicago, USA) – See all my reviews

In response to the comments that this film is boring, shallow or without a character to identify with: Please study some Chinese history before you make such judgments. The story we see is a visual treat but overlays a much deeper story of China in myriad aspects. Perhaps you are unaware that films and books of the period had to tread lightly on topics that were not merely taboo but could result in danger for all connected. Thus, a slight symbolic representation often took place. Sort of poetic shorthand. Not unlike Chinese art that may seem to be about the season of autumn but is actually about death or change or loss. Nevertheless, any film must stand on its own regardless of the background. This film includes acting scenes that are incredibly forceful and still so gentle. The photography, costumes, sound and music blend into a cinematic work of art. I found the character completely believable, a woman bound in a tradition from which she found no escape except death or madness. And for those who sneer at the opera singer, imagine how the music you enjoy would sound to someone who has a completely different background. Please accept cultural diversity and let your mind and heart be enlarged!

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