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Harry Dean Stanton,
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 <email@example.com>
Banned in China for a short time in the early 1990s. See more »
Who are you?
Fourth mistress, please come inside.
[losing her cool]
So you're the fourth mistress!
[Yan'er rudely pulls the water bowl away from Songlian and puts clothes in it]
Yes! I am the fourth mistress. Bring my suitcase inside please.
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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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