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Raise the Red Lantern (LTCG Pt.2)

"I'm just one of the Master's robes. He can wear it, or he can take it off."

- Songlian (played by actress Gong Li)


Title: Raise the Red Lantern (1991)

Director: Zhang Yimou

Cinematographer: Zhao Fei

Colour Scheme: Analogous / Complementary


In Zhang Yimou’s Raise the Red Lantern, we see colour schemes, framing, and camera angles that highlight the power structure in patriarchal Chinese society. Zhang selects from a stirring palette of glowing reds, subtle yellows and twilight greys. It is a message that violence breeds violence as we see the weak and powerless exploited by those on top, who then turn around and pound at those who are even more venerable than they are.


While red symbolises passion and revolutionary spirit in films like Red Sorghum (1987), it takes on a much more sinister meaning in Raise the Red Lantern. The lighting of the red lanterns suggests power and status for the wives because whoever wins the master’s favour receives an elaborate foot massage.


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