Books and Movies Reviews

Raising the Red Lantern

This film is a story of something greater than the actual story itself.Set in the 1920s in Northern China, a young girl finds herself involved in something that was not what she had imagined for herself.The main character is Songlian, a 19-year-old Chinese girl, who marries into the Chen Clan only to find herself as one of the four mistresses within a home of tradition and strict order.The geographical setting is appropriate as to the underline theme of the film and that is a feeling of isolation within the walls of the Chen compound.The gray walls of their living quarters strengthens this feeling of isolation experienced by all four women. The only color in their lives is the lighting of red lanterns signifying the sexual wishes of the Master Chen for that evening.The sound effects of bells and Chinese opera serves to enhance the intensity of their longing for real companionship. The relationship between the Master and his four wives is purely sexual.As a result, the four women compete with one another to sway his affections by conniving and betraying the other for the sake of time spent with the Master.Songlian struggles more than the other wives because she is younger and educated. This is both an asset and a liability for her because the others are very jealous of her and this isolates her even more than the walls. In addition to sharing the Master, each woman including their servants must obey strict rules of the household.These rules act to further control women in an already repressive society of the time. This film is somewhat true to form because women of China especially during this period were very suppressed.Although Chen had wealth, the women were still treated as objects of status without choices or hopes of some kind of personal happiness only sacrifice.This is reinforced by the conversations about the importance of having a son and how having a daughter was considered a wasted birth. …


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