RAISE THE RED LANTERN SCENE ANALYSIS Raise the Red Lantern directed by Zhang Yi Mou is a movie that is set in 1920’s china. It tells the tragic story of 19 year old University student Songlian who becomes the fourth mistress in the wealthy Chen family after her father’s death. The opening scene shows the process from Songlian’s marriage discussion with her mother to the moment she steps into the life of being the puppet of the Chen household.
In the opening scene we are introduced to the protagonist; Songlian, the Master, the household maids and Songlian’s future maid; Yan’er. From the dialogue between Songlian and her mother at the very start of the scene, we are notified that she is unwillingly being sent away to get married with a wealthy man, as she makes constant pauses indicating her unwillingness and the Heavy flat despondent tone to show that she is unhappy.
As the story proceeds, she walks to the household without taking the bridal carriage, still wearing her school girl costume. She was led through the house by the house keeper when she meets her future maid, whom she has some conflict with when Yan’er refuses to let her use the water to wash her arm and face, Songlian instantly stands up and tells yan’er to bring her bag furiously, attempting to establish her position in the household.
The purpose of this scene is to show how dramatically Song lian’s polite school girl personality changes into those of a cranky, uneducated woman. It contributes to the development of the story as we can unravel more of why Yan’er dislikes Songlian so much and how Songlian’s personality continues to change further in the story. This scene reveals the various sides of Songlian’s personality.
Through the conversation between Songlian and her mother we know that she is a naturally accepting person so she accepts the marriage and doesn't complain, it is obvious from the when she says “it is not my choice to choose who I marry, so why don’t I just marry a wealthy man since money is what you are always talking about”. It is also evident that she is in control of herself and is individually spirited from the way she’d rather walk to the Chen’s family instead of taking the bridal carriage also how she immediately established her position by making Yan’er as soon as she stepped into the Chen household.
Our understanding to Songlian’s personality changes dramatically from knowing her as a good university student transforming to a mean housewife. This is because Song lian changes according to the way people treat her within the household, for example the way Yan’er rudely rejected her at the start triggered her first personality change. A series of different cinematography’s have been used effectively in this scene.
Camera angles played an important role of capturing movement and important details of the story, for example the establishing shot was a close up of Songlian which was an effective way of capturing her emotions and facial expression allowing the emotion to be sent to the audience more directly. Furthermore, a long shot was used to show how insignificant and small she was within a mall rom of the household. In addition, on the night of her marriage a full shot of Songlian's room was used to show how she is framed by the bed and red lanterns shows how she's been packaged for the master's pleasure.
Music and sound was also a key cinematography in this film, for example the mild buzzing sound in the background makes the scenes more intense and the sounds within the household is always echoed which indicated the emptiness and loneliness of Songlian. The importance of this scene as a whole is that it introduces the characters and describes what Songlian was like before she enters the Chen family so the dramatic morph of her personality will be more direct to the audience by the end of the scene.