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Raise the Red Lantern

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Raise the Red Lantern is a movie that kidnaps you to a foreign place and immerses you completely with new traditions. The story follows young Songhian whom is forced by her mother to get married to a rich man. In his household, she becomes the Forth Mistress, and the youngest among her husband's wives. Songhian and the audience quickly learn the rules of the Master's beautifully designed compound, whichever wife the Master currently favors is graced by his attention, lavish foot massages, and many brillantly lit red lanterns. The women's

jelousy and greed fuel, the competition among the wives for the Master's good favors, and the polite battle becomes intense, and soon Songhian is tangled up in a fierce battle for the red lanterns. What starts out as harmless bickering soon turns to intrigue, backstabbing, and worse. The shifting alliances and worsening guilt of the women caught in a golden cage while they are fighting for a man they. The lack of any true human emotion couples with the absence of a wedding reception to create an impersonal atmosphere that prevails throughout the film.

Every evening, a red lantern is lit in front of the courtyard of the wife Chen chooses to sleep with. Contrary to it's traditional symbolism red is anything but festive in this film. There is no love among the wives only hatred. The relationships between Chen and his wives are purely sexual. Rather than helping each other out and raising their status within the family, the wives are constantly fighting among themselves to win many favors from Chen. The wives who live in separate houses must compete for the affections and privileges of the master in accordance with his customs. Jealousy abounds between the wives and the scheming keeps the tensions high. Each night many red lanterns are lit in favor of whom the master will be with, just to signal the other concubines that they will not enjoy the master's favor this night.

The portrayal of female relations is detailed with emphasis on timed hostilities which act as a mask of more pointed assaults on their standing within their family. The film allows us to enter into a sealed world of a rich man's house, and see how jealousies fester in its hostile atmosphere. Each of the four wives is treated with the greatest luxury, pampered with food and care, servants and massages, but they are like horses. They are cared for the whim of the master. Songlian is at first furious with her fate. But she then begins to learn the routine of the house, and is drawn into its intrigues and alliances. If you are only given one game to play, it is human to try to win it. But Songlian's conduct only leads to ostracism and isolation, not to liberation. Her insight that the establishment of an absurd set of rules cannot conceal the actual insignificance of such an existence.

Within days of her arrival, Songlian's relationships with her "sisters" is established. The first wife an aging woman with a grown son, does her best to ignore Songlian's presence. The third concubine, beautiful ex-opera singer, is fiercely jealous of Songlian, worried that the master will find his new wife enticing. And Zhuoyun is the only wife whom accepts Songlian and displayes affection for her, but as we learn she has secretly plot to destroy her.

She discovers this when one morning she learns that her treasured flute, which was given to her by her father is missing, she imeaditly blames her servant of jelousy and clames she is a thief. She procides to drags her through the outdoor courourdors to the servants living quarters as she begs and pleas not to go and denies stealing the flute. As they get to the door her Songlian's servant blocks the large black metal door with her body in a last attempt to protect her home, Songlian throws her aside and barges through the doors to reviel a overflowing display of lit red lanterns. Her servant falls to her feet in fear of her future posibile punishment.

The color red is a symbol of sexuality and eroticism, but no longer of passion. More importantly, it turns out to be associated



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