Monday, December 30, 2013

Blind Spot: Raise the Red Lantern (1991)

Gong Li's performance is only one reason to love this film.

Directed by Zhang Yimou
Produced by Fu-Sheng Chiu
Written by Ni Zhen (screenplay); Su Tong (novel)
Starring Gong Li, He Caifei, Cao Cuifeng, Jin Shuyuan and Ma Jingwu

Plot Summary: A young woman becomes a rich man's wife and competes with his other wives for his attention.

Significance: One of Zhang Yimou's most popular films, it was featured in the latest Sight and Sound Poll (tied at #174 in the directors' one). It was even nominated for the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar, and it won the BAFTA for Best Film not in the English Language.

Thoughts: This engaging period drama showcases a fantastic leading performance by Gong Li. He Caifei and Cao Cuifeng also deliver great performances as two of the competitive wives. Just watching the actresses play these interesting characters is enjoyable. Not unlike other Yimou films, the production values are first-rate, with lavish production design, costume work and cinematography. It's a colorful film with fine direction and excellent performances. If it sounds intriguing, I'd strongly recommend giving it a look.

Rating: ****

This is the twelfth film in my 2013 Blind Spot Series, as first started by Ryan McNeil.


  1. Love this film, and Li is amazing in this. One of my favorites of 91, which just so happens to be one of my favorite film years of the 90's.

    1. '91 must've been a tough year for your ballot. I was surprised Li didn't make your top 5.

    2. It was such a hard year for me. I still hate myself for not nominating Binoche, and the more I think about it the more I love her film too! LOL, I mean, I even had a tie in Lead Actress so that I could nominate a sixth contender and I still didn't have room for her, Li, Hamilton or Field! That year is just AMAZING. In fact, it reminds me of this year...there are just so many wonderful films that narrowing any of my ballots down is like Sophie's Choice!

    3. Yay! You know I'm crazy about Binoche and that film. :) Hamilton is a snub that really stings for me, but I can't fit her in either. '91 seems much like 2013, which is basically the year of the snub for me. I've left out so many great films/performances! :(

  2. I do have a weakness for interesting period drama. Great post! You write such terrific concise reviews.

    1. Thanks so much! Hope you get to check this one out at some point.