Color Analysis in Raised the Red Lantern

859 words 4 pages
Color Emphasis in Raise the Red Lantern

Chen Ning (Jenny) Yen
58935107
ASIA 355
Professor Rui Wang
23/11/2012

Scholars and film critiques have often regarded the fifth-generation film Director, Zhang Yi Mou’s films as a visually sensual feast (Zhu 26). The predominant use of the color Red in his highly stylized films: Red Sorghum (1988), Ju Dou and Raise the Red Lantern (1991) are evidence of his trademark visual style thus leading scholars to critically analyze the symbolic representation of the color. I would argue however, in addition to the prevalent use of red in his art-house films, there are several supporting colors (black, white, grey, blue), intertwining with the color red. Zhang seems
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As an audience, we are only exposed to the distorted or masked images of the master, yet we can sense his omnipresent power and control. He is always shown wearing a changshan, or mandarin gown in black which is the king of all colors and represents the color of heaven. The master’s black changshan reinforces his superior position in the Chen household. In addition, the 3rd mistress Meishan is also shown wearing a black qipao or Chinese dress when she deliberately wakes Songlian by singing loudly in the morning, as a way of exterting her power in the household.

Although black symbolizes power and control, it also inherently represents evil and death. This is evident in the scene where all the mistresses stand outside their compounds awaiting master’s instruction; maid, Yan’er stands behind Songlian in a black garment foreshadowing her impending fate. Again, reinforcing this, black is the garment the servants wear when a severely ill Yan’er is being carried out to the hospital. One of the most iconic scenes in this film is the covering of the red lanterns with black cloth as a punishment when the master finds out that Songlian manipulated the rules of the house by tricking him into believing she is pregnant. The battle between the red lantern and the darkness of the master, he is regaining his power by smothering hers. Juxtaposition between balck and red.

Just like lighting lanterns is an old custom in the Chen household, foot

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