Ballet Drama Raise the Red Lantern
Directed by Zhang Yimou
Performed by the National Ballet of China
Published by Peninsula Audio-Visual Publishing House, 2005
Media: 1 DVD
Raise the Red Lantern tells of a girl who reluctantly becomes the third wife of a powerful mandarin in the 20s of the last century. Her beauty makes her husband desire her greatly, to the extent that he forces her to submit when she shows reluctance. She protests desperately but fails to avoid her tragic destiny. She idles away her life by watching operas in theaters or playing mah-jong all day long. From time to time she would seek chances to meet her former lover, a handsome young opera performer. But her private dating is spied by her husband's second wife who is jealous. Her adultery is caught by her husband on the spot. But the second concubine receives nothing but a slash on the face from her husband. Frustrated in agony, she tears all the red lanterns in the courtyard. Their husband, also their master, because furious and put his two concubines to death. Before dying, the two envious concubines forgive each other, entirely forgetting their hatreds.
Directed by Zhang Yimou, a famous director of the same title movie, performed by the National Ballet of China, the ballet version of Raise the Red Lantern makes dramatic narrative and visual brilliance powerfully serve each other, yielding an absolutely clear and richly expressive story line. Combining the ballet dancing with Chinese art elements, the result is spectacular: dancing of exquisite grace and line, sumptuously clever stage and costume design, a brilliant infusion of some Peking Opera dance, song and fighting elements, and the poignancy of the simple story itself. This ballet version of Raise the Red Lantern was published as one of the national stage art elite series.