Raise the Red Lantern (1991), Zhang Yimou

A political allegory disguised as a family melodrama, Zhang Yimou’s 1991 Raise the Red Lantern, a tale of privilege, deception and hatred, where mistresses fight for their master’s sexual attention, stands as a metaphor for human nature’s propensity towards willing submission.

raise-the-red-lantern8Is the ultimate allegorical meaning of Raise the Red Lantern [Dà Hóng Dēnglóng Gāogāo Guà] to do with archaic elements still present in modern China? Does the film hides behind its simple story of deception and betrayal a criticism of how women are still treated in this immense communist country? The near obvious is given a poignant meaning – through spectacular frames and aural delight within a maze of malice and artifice – in the story of Songlian, the fourth wife-cum-concubine of a wealthy master in 1920s China. Continue reading