Raise the Red Lantern-Mandarin
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Zhang Yimou (Ju Dou) directed this fascinating, visually formal 1991 film about an educated woman (Gong Li) who is sent off to become the newest wife of a feudal nobleman in 1920s China. Nearly isolated in his spooky, palatial home, she develops relationships with several of the other wives and slowly becomes aware of a hideous legacy of punishment toward more willful women. The film has a brittle and dry quality that is deliberate, but also suggestive of Zhang working through various explorations of his own style (which he resolved in his next film, The Story of Qiu Ju). Gong Li, one of the world's great actresses, is superb. --Tom Keogh
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Top Customer Reviews
It had the worst transfer, the film looked horrible, the quality was insulting to such a great film. The subtitles were few and far between, MAJOR dialogues are missing and even the title is mistranslated! How this could EVER be a mainstream DVD release I will never know but DO NOT PURCHASE IT, it will only make you cry a bit at the injustice this release has done for the film.
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That being said, this DVD was an utter travesty! If I hadn't bought this thing from Amazon, I would have sworn this thing was bootlegged. It was in such bad shape. The image was dirty and scratched, as though it had been taken from a very old print. The colors were noticeably lackluster and washed-out. The soundtrack was extremely muddy. And don't even get me started on the subtitles. It was a HORRIBLE translation! They definitely detracted from the film.
I know for a fact that there are better prints out there. When I first saw a version of this in film school, it was on laserdisc. The laserdisc had beautiful visuals. And having watched the VHS version a few times, I know that there are far better translations out there.
I can't tell you how embarrassed I was to show this DVD to my husband after having talked about how great this film. The DVD is positively underwhelmingly and does not do this beautiful film justice at all. We definitely need someone to put an "authorized" version out. I'm talking to you, Criterion!
I am not the first (nor will I be the last) to express how awful the Razor DVD release of Raise the Red Lantern truly is. And it's horrifying to think that this travesty might be someone's first introduction to such a beautiful film.
I have loved this film since I first saw it in 1992--my university made Raise the Red Lantern an annual part of its excellent foreign film lineup--and I can't remember how many times I saw it or how many friends I made see it. (I do know that one year I trekked out to see it three times in less than a week because I was writing a paper on it.) As beautiful as Yimou's other films are, this one is my favorite, with its deep psychological layers, beautiful cinematography, and haunting story.
Yet this release is riddled with problems. Both the picture and the sound have a snap-crackle-pop quality -- in fact, the picture looks snowy in so many places that it's almost funny when you get to a scene where it really is snowing because it doesn't look real. Yimou is such a master with color, blanketing entire shots with red, white, yellow, or blue, but that is ruined with the black and white scratches all over the picture. Surely someone somewhere has a good copy of the film that could have been used in making this DVD. It is especially awful in the darker nighttime shots, because the colors bleed, and there is none of the sharp focus that one expects in a digital format.
The subtitles are laughable. At one point, one character tells another not to be so "groovy" - gloomy? - before she sneaks off to see her "secrete" lover.
This release is an insult to all involved. Please find a VHS copy to watch--but don't ask for mine, becasue I'm certainly not giving it up.
This DVD is horrible. I can't believe that it is even on the market. The picture is snowy - white streaks running thru the whole movie. Picture quality is murky, colors are foggy and uneven. The sound is equally horrible.
Shame on whoever produced this less than amateurish DVD. This movie deserves better. I thru this DVD in the trash and kept my old tape, which is much better.
My wife and I watched it last night. The movie began with black and white streaks and snow throughout the film. The translation contained multiple misspelled words and grammatical errors. The colors were horrible, with bleeding reds and out of focus blue scenes. It was as if someone had found an old VHS tape and decided to make a bootleg copy to DVD with their own amateurish translation. After the DVD movie was over, we even put the 12 year old VHS tape in to compare quality and the difference was like night and day.
[...] The transfer of this movie from VHS to DVD is a travesty.
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