Wednesday, October 17, 2012
Gong Li in "Raise the Red Lantern"
Most of all, though, there was Gong Li. “Ju Duo”, the Academy Award nominated Zhang Yimou movie from the year before that featured her had come and gone from the wastelands of the post-industrial Midwest before we had realized it, so this was the first time we saw Gong Li on a forty foot screen. From her first appearance under the credits as the nineteen year old fourth wife of a rural landowner, with her long pigtails and single suitcase, to the last when she has gone mad due to the wretched toxicity of her “sisters” and her own weakness, she dominates the film.
Song Lian is forced to leave her university studies when her father dies. She becomes the Fourth Mistress in the house of Chen Zuo Qian where she is to service her master sexually and produce a son or two. The red lantern of the title is raised at the door of the mistress who will be honored with the presence of Chen that evening. It is the high point and the only important event of the day—of any day at all. She gets a foot massage before she entertains him and gets to choose the menu for the communal meal the mistresses eat each day. Since they have no ability to think or act on their own these privileges are very important in the lives of the women. They are subject to ritual humiliation every day; each stands in on the front stoop of her house with her maid awaiting the lantern lighter. Three are publicly denigrated, one is granted recognition at the whim of the master of the house. Since they are competing for a worthless prize with no way of affecting the outcome the situation at the Chen household is full of hatred, bitterness and intrigue.
at 7:24 PM