Raise the Red Lantern

1991 | Drama | 125 minutes | Mandarin with English subtitles


In the Chinese Warlord Era (1916-1928), nineteen-year-old Songlian is forced, upon her father’s death, to become a concubine of the wealthy Master Chen. Songlian is Master Chen’s fourth concubine.At first she is showered with foot massages under the lights of red lanterns. Soon, Songlian discovers that the other three concubines do not receive the same treatment. They each compete for the affection of Master Chen. As time goes on, Songlian finds herself at odds with Zhuoyun and Meishan, the second and third concubines. Songlian must take more risks to attract Master Chen’s attention. Songlian realizes she will have to struggle hard  to successfully survive in Master Chen’s household.  

Gong Li (Songlian) / Ma Jingwu (Master Chen) / He Saifei (Meishan) / Cao Cuifen (Zhuoyun)
Why Stream This Film?
Leonard Maltin’s Movie Guide gave Raise the Red Lantern 4 out of 4 stars and film critic Jonathan Crow described it as “one of the landmark films of the 1990s.” It was originally banned by the Chinese government claiming it was “highly critical of contemporary China.”
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score (Critics Consensus): 96%
  • Academy Awards: Nominated, Best Foreign Language Film
  • BAFTA Awards: Winner, Best Foreign Language Film
  • National Board of Review: Winner, Best Foreign Language Film
  • New York Film Critics Circle Awards: Winner, Best Foreign Language Film

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RAISE the RED LANTERN can be interpreted in a number of ways—as a cry against the subjugation of women in China, as an attack on feudal attitudes, as a formal exercise in storytelling. And yet, it all works because it is so fascinating on the level of melodrama.
Roger Ebert


A beautiful crafted and richly detailed feat of consciousness-raising and a serious drama with the verve of a good soap opera.
Janet Maslin

The New York Times

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