Raise the Red Lantern (Da hong deng long gao gao gua) [1991] • China

Four women live in separate apartments in a beautiful castle. Three of them like to eat meat, one is a vegetarian. They're all married to the same guy, the master of the castle. Whomever the master chooses to stay with on any given night gets a foot massage and gets to call the shots at dinnertime, decide the menu. Seems like an environment ripe for jealousies and fighting. Seems like a season of Dallas but it's tweaked out to 1920s Chinese concubine culture. It's a beautiful film because the castle is beautiful. Gong Li is beautiful. But it's too easy to see where things are going, and an obvious girly cat fight isn't that interesting.

Or is it a veiled allegory against Chinese communist authoritarianism, or the culture of patriarchy? If so, we have to call it good. That's the rule. Damn chicks, allegorically speaking, should have banded together and thrown off their oppressors instead of fighting each other. The film, in foreshadowing irony, is divided into "Summer, Fall, Winter, Spring ... Summer", just like Kim ki-duk's so-called masterpiece that's beautiful to look at but banal in story. I don't understand all the love for this film (or Kim's film). Yes, they are both gorgeous but both are only seemingly profound.


No comments:

Post a Comment