Saturday, 1 September 2007

Raise the Red Lantern (1991)

Raise the Red Lantern (1991)This movie did for the Chinese Republican period drama what Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon did for wuxia, their high profile enabled these unique Chinese (sub)genre to be introduced to the world.

The Republican period drama is set against the backdrop of the Republican Era (1912 - 1949), a period between the end of Qing Dynasty, and the Communist rule in China.

This is a period of great transitions between the old and the new. Well, China underwent tumultuous transformations in the whole of 20th century. In the last 3 decades, the great turning point occured in the economic and political arenas, while in the Republican Era, the great change took place in the societal and cultural lives of the Chinese.

The transitional process could visibly be seen in the costumes where some characters in the movies are wearing traditional clothes like long robes for men and qipaos for women to reflect their traditional outlook while other put on modern clothes to similarly reflecting their modern attitude.

So during these transistion from the feudal China to the modern China, these 2 cultural, societal forces are inevitably clashed, resulting in turmoil and tragedy. The tensions and conflicts arose from these cultural gaps provide ample materials to feed the Republican period drama genre.

For this reason, the Repblican period drama is very popular among Chinese audience. As popular as wuxia. The Republican period drama tend to be melodramatic because of the extraordinary circumstances where these events took place.

To the foreigners, this movie seems very original. As original as Crouching Tiger. Both of these are in fact a very well established subgenres in the Chinese movie industry by the time these 2 were made (Of course, the wuxia is more established).

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