Princesses in A Pretty Prison

RAISE THE RED LANTERN Directed by Zhang Yimou

Screenplay by Ni Zhen

Beauty is suspect these days. Any movie that luxuriates in decor and landscape will be seen to dawdle (Aren't these the passages we all skipped over in the novels our English teachers demanded we read?). A pretty face in a pretty picture stirs all sorts of righteous suspicions about artists who wallow in nostalgia for the glamorous artifacts of a despotic past.

So the physical splendor of Zhang Yimou's Raise the Red Lantern can seem at best anachronistic, at worst reactionary. Even the film's nomination for this year's foreign-language...

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