September 09, 2010

Must Watch Before You Die #2: 'Raise the Red Lantern' (1991)

Zhang Yimou’s ‘Raise the Red Lantern’ is set in China, in the year 1920. It tells the story of a young girl who becomes the fourth wife of a wealthy man and finds herself caught in the game of winning that disgusting, good-for-nothing chauvinist from other ‘sisters’.

Why is this movie a must watch?
• Because it is a bold and brutal critique of our society that has traditionally been making rules to suit the polygamous and perverse nature of the male. At the same time it displays an interesting game of sexual politics by women who know how to make use of the male’s weaknesses.
• Because it is immensely erotic and haunting, without being either. There is a gutsy aesthetic decision made by the director by hardly revealing to us the face of the husband – as if it is a shame, as if it is irrelevant, though we are allowed complete access to the expressions, the emotions, and the inner lives of most of the wives.
• Because it is always wonderful to witness something so unique, so local in its socio-cultural expression, so universal in its aesthetic appeal. From the customs, to the music, to the costumes – it is an amazing cultural journey into one of the world’s oldest and richest civilizations.
• Because it is one of those rare films where the location is as important as the plot or the characters. You can not forget the imposing castle that contains all of the film and might even feel like taking a trip to China just for visiting that place.
• Because this film proves how a good director can take the script and re-write it on celluloid, making it rise to a level so supreme that is beyond words written on pages.

Film Critic James Berardinelli says, talking about its opulent visuals, “The appeal to the eye only heightens the movie's emotional power." He rated this film as the 7th best film of the decade.


  1. have queued the movie to my viewing list. just hope the movie doesn't let these 'must watch reason' down...

  2. सबसे पहले तो इस शानदार सीरीज के लिए आपको साधुवाद। सचमुच यह प्रयास बहुत अच्छा है। सार्थक सिनेमा के लिए एक दर्शक वर्ग तैयार करने के लिए एक जरूरी पहल।

    दरअसल मैं आया था आपको एक पोस्ट का लिंक देने। हमने उड़ान के बारे में जो चर्चा की थी तो मुझे लगा कि आपको और प्रियदर्शी को यह पोस्ट जरूर पढ़नी चाहिए। यह भी ध्यान रखें कि वस्तुतः यह पोस्ट लेखक की डायरी की एक एंट्री मात्र है, कोई मुकम्मल कहानी नहीं, फिर भी,देखें कि लेखक क्या कह रहा है।

  3. @प्रियदर्शी

    'बना रहे बनारस' ब्लाग पर आप आएं और प्रतिक्रिया करना चाहे तों भाषा को लेकर कोई असमंजस न रखिएगा। अंग्रेजी या हिन्दी जिसमें आपको सहूलियत हो उसमें कमेंट करें।