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During China's Tang dynasty the emperor has taken the princess of a neighboring province as wife. She has borne him two sons and raised his eldest. Now his control over his dominion is complete, including the royal family itself.
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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"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.
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