|Page 1 of 10:||         |
|Index||96 reviews in total|
Every frame of this film explodes with excellent acting, cinematography, music and art direction. I never thought I would see something so beautiful in a foreign film since Ingmar Bergman's work. This is by no means, an art film this is a human film, while holding an ethnic background these people portrayed in the film are all of us and is probably what we would call a fable on the cruelty of humanity. I'am disgusted to discover this film isn't on video or DVD in america. It seems as if its popularity has run thin since the 90's but this is a masterpiece people!
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.
"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.
I can certainly understand why this film is so critically acclaimed. Raise
The Red Lantern is one of the only Chinese movies I've seen, but I'll
definitely admit that it's unusual to see a film this stylistically
masterful come out of Hollywood (although it can happen -- The Thin Red
Line, for example). A lot of what makes this film work is Zhang Yimou's
outstanding directorial style; his use of color against bleak background is
especially effective. It's his hypnotic visuals that keep you interested
throughout the slow progression of the story. And the amazing acting by
of the performers doesn't hurt, either; everything feels completely
I think of this as one of those movies that you aren't supposed to enjoy; it shocks you, and leaves you just as disturbed as, considering the subject matter, you should be. The miserable story of Yan'er, the servant girl, is especially painful to watch, and the same goes for the unfolding of the last few scenes. But I think the fact that I was so unsettled by this movie probably just goes to show how well it gets its points across. And along with the remarkable acting and directing, that's definitely something to be respected.
I don't care what anyone says, this film belongs in the top 10 films of the 90s worldwide...the story, the implicit attacks on the Communist regime, cinematography, direction, and acting (Gong Li was superb) coelesced into one extraordinary piece of cinema magic that transcends both cultural and language differences. The film was so refreshing and exciting for me, yet it was also quite a dark film. Not a lot of "conventional action", instead, the intensity of the film comes from the actor's and their emotions. A very powerful film, and disturbing one at that. Job well done...Zhang Yimou was brilliant with this one. If you're a lover of great cinema, then this is a must. I'm already hounding at Criterion to take on this film.
This movie has it all, betrayal, conflict and tragedy. I have to say
I couldn't live without it, effectively anyway. The political criticisms
tear at the spine of the film and the beauty of it in such an intimate
setting is outstanding. The use of such a rich, three dimensional setting
defies what we have been taught by the mainstream as being beautiful and
sets a standard on a budget that I would love to be aware of, that all
Hollywood movies should aspire to. It shows us that film, real film that
does not need $100 million to look good, rather the combination of a
haunting setting in the middle of vastness and the equally haunting beauty
of it's star, Gong Li, but at it's heart the house itself resembles a
claustrophobic pot, boiling over the surface.
This is in my opinion, Zhang Yimou's greatest film, it is a triumph in film form and narrative. The haunting sounds of flutes, a significant visual and audio element that has a mythical quality due to it's importance to Songlian and becomes an unattainable item of the gods when it is removed from existence when it is burned, becoming a tragic reminder on the attempts to vanquish the personalities of not only Songlian but all of the concubines. It's slow burning nature may repel the masses but anyone who can get a copy, do so without fail, you will never regret it. I cannot stress the importance of this film, we may see it as a study on the oppression of women in China, but this is universal, we westerners once did the same thing not too long ago.
For me the cinematography is what sells the film, it is the best I have ever seen and ever will. If there is ever a film to promote the use of the three strip technicolour process once again, this is it. Long after you have finished your post film analysis, the light from the red lanterns will still be searing in your eyes.
Zhang Yimou solidifies his standing as one of cinema's most brilliant craftsmen with Raise the Red Lantern, a heartbreaking and fascinating look into the life of a young, well-educated woman who gives up her future to become the fourth wife of a wealthy landowner in 1920s China. Gong Li, the director's longtime muse, delivers a performance nearly unsurpassed by anyone, male or female, in the 1990s (and many other decades, as well). Her opening close-up is an indelible image of sorrow and resignation capable of drawing tears out of a statue. Zhang Yimou makes films as exquisitely composed as any master's painting, and his palette extends beyond the obvious beauty of Gong Li to include the details of the courtyards, lanterns, silks, and rooftops with an inexplicable mixture of tranquility and austerity.
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.
Songlian(Gong li) is the fourth wife of the elusive Master.When she arrives in this secluded remote place the other wives pay attention,the film shows the female vanity and a competition to gain the master affection but why? This women seems not to be in love of this man but I was most intrigued by the presence and personality of the young Songlian,she seems not to belong there,we know she is an educated lady who was sold as concubine. Songlian looks very delicate but she proves that she can be strong and even rebel.
The great chinase Director Zhang Yimou did a wonderful job to focused on the beautiful,flawless face of the impressive Gong Li.The film begins when we see her face on the screen and a tear drops slowly.Other poignant scene is when her flute disappears why she makes too much noise about it?is the only gift she had from her late father.
When the winter arrives and the snow envelops this place it seem more remote and eerie Then a series of tragedies occur and the heroine starts to fade slowly. I think that the ending is so sad but at the same time is like a fairy tale To me.Songlian looks like a ghost walking around,alone without a soul .She represents a tragic past that will always haunt this place.
I'm a big admirer of the actress Gong Li,all her films impressive me in different levels: `Jou Du'; The Story of Qiu Ju; Farewell to my Concubine. Her face and reactions is her treasure, Gong Li is the most beautiful actress I had ever seen, unique,talented and vulnerable. 9/10
I had a good day, so I selected this film. I have several films that I
reserve for good days because I know they will reward. Its a sort of
celebration that will send me into rich dreams, annotating my life.
This has two known qualities that you, dear reader, can expect without knowing anything about the film itself.
First, you will know that this is a woman directed by someone deeply in love with her. This doesn't always produce great films, but when the director is inherently cinematic, it often evokes something deep in the viewer. There is nothing in the world like looking on the face the person you are centered on. A million subtle decisions are made in each scene, summing to an effect that cannot be missed. If this had poor narrative qualities (and some of their films did) it would still have this quality of seeing into a soulmate deeply enough to be able to animate the skin.
Its quite interesting when you consider the woman. If you see her outside of film, or in films made by ordinary eyes, she is quite ordinary. She has an atypical Chinese body: busty and widehipped. She is poised but doesn't have the neck or cheekboned face of other Asian women. Only under this man's eye is she a goddess. You can see this in the very first shot.
The second thing you can count on is the architectural anchoring of the thing. This man knows how to use space. He uses it in the cinematic narrative, for example, if you replay the shots where the house of death is shown, and then the last encounter with it... And if you understand why the decisions about handling distance and surfaces were made they way they were, you will have entered a zone where from now on you will not be able to reason without reasoning with place.
But there are other handlings of space: As with some of his other films, the building is a character. Its the noir narrator who sets the rules often arbitrary under which all characters are bound to operate, and which drives the narrative. Its a particularly western notion, this, and has gotten our hero in trouble, even banned. This part is following Welles and Kubrick.
But he goes further than either of them with this notion that the light both has agency of its own (it selects which of the four wives gets a foot massage and sex) and is a part of the fabric of the buildings. The redness changes the spaces it occupies, bringing intrigue with the sex, desire for several things. Its quite layered, what is going on. These lanterns are the real master; in fact the person who inhabits the master's body is hardly even there. We never see his face.
Because of the extensive use of hard planes and selfish light, there aren't many fabric effects here, as we'll see elsewhere.
I am tempted to designate this as one of my two allowed "must see before you die" films of 1991. But I'm in too good a mood to make such a serious decision.
Ted's Evaluation -- 3 of 3: Worth watching.
|Page 1 of 10:||         |
|Plot summary||Plot synopsis||Ratings|
|Awards||Newsgroup reviews||External reviews|
|Parents Guide||Plot keywords||Main details|
|Your user reviews||Your vote history|