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Raise the Red Lantern


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#1 Peter Moretti

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Posted 06 June 2009 - 09:06 AM

I just finished watching Raise the Red Lantern. To me the shots looked very simple. Little camera movement, nothing hand held, no racks of focus (that I can recall). And it looked absoluetly brilliant.

I realize that the above are sometimes used as gimmicks, so I don't mean to say that they in anyway indicate good cinematography.

But what is it about this film that made it look so darn beautiful, besides Gong Li?

Your thoughts, please :) .
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#2 Richard Vialet

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Posted 06 June 2009 - 09:43 AM

I love this movie it is one of my favorites!

I think the way it was shot really mirrors the kind of extremely rigid formality of the situation she was in at the master's house. I think alot of its beauty comes from the combination of the photography, the costumes and ESPECIALLY the art direction. I think it's very confidently directed which I think is one of the most exciting things about it (for example: how you never really get any kind of visual access to the master...or almost any other male for that matter).

Love it!
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#3 Richard Vialet

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Posted 06 June 2009 - 09:43 AM

Would love to hear other thoughts about it...

Edited by Richard Vialet, 06 June 2009 - 09:45 AM.

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#4 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 06 June 2009 - 10:12 AM

Besides the classic compositions, what always strikes me about the movie is the color control -- the mansion is near monochromatic except for the color of the red lanterns, and some shots are in blue twilight, so you have these color combinations of grey and red, or blue and red, falling white snow and red, etc.
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#5 Freya Black

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Posted 07 June 2009 - 01:45 PM

The film was apparently printed in the Techicolour process, not sure if the DVD will have come from the prints tho or from the negs. It's also possible the film was shot using Monopack technicolour film. There seems to be some confusion about it tho.

Anyway just thought I would throw it in as an intresting aside. :)

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#6 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 07 June 2009 - 03:02 PM

China stopped using their dye transfer machines for prints some time ago, though it's possible some prints were made for the Chinese market using it. I doubt the U.S. prints were done that way.

Technicolor Monopack hasn't been used for fifty or sixty years, it was basically a lower-contrast Kodachrome stock made by Kodak for Technicolor Labs.

"Raise the Red Lantern" was shot on Kodak color negative I believe.
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#7 Freya Black

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Posted 07 June 2009 - 03:55 PM

"Raise the Red Lantern" was shot on Kodak color negative I believe.


You could well be right! Theres a lot of speculation about on the subject with a lot of people saying it was shot in 3 strip technicolour which seems kind of unlikely to me. I suspect it was just the prints that were technicolour, which makes it kind of irrelevant if the dvd was transferred from the negs. I'm thinking that maybe there really were technicolour prints but that they used some kind of process to print from Kodak or Fuji negs or something. I'm right in thinking they had the technology to do that at the end of the technicolour process right?

Do you think they would have really had seperate prints for the US market for a smaller film such as this? I know that here in the UK we often get left over American prints after they have done the rounds in the states even for larger films and on very small films there may only be a couple of prints in circulation total.

It would be intresting to talk to someone who might genuinely know the story about technicolour and raise the red lantern and to put all the various rumours to rest!

love

Freya
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#8 Richard Vialet

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Posted 07 June 2009 - 04:13 PM

Theres alot of literature on the use of the dye-transfer printing on Zhang Yimou's previous movie, JU DOU, using the old equipment that the Chinese bought from Technicolor after they shut the process down.

This was just released a year before Raise The Red Lantern, so I always expected that they did the same thing for this movie. But I think Ju Dou was considered one of the last major dye-transfer printed movies to be released before Technicolor revisited it again for movies like Pearl Harbor.
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#9 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 07 June 2009 - 04:36 PM

The Chinese bought Technicolor's dye transfer equipment in the mid 1970's when Technicolor got rid of the process

Technicolor built a prototype brand-new dye transfer printer in the 1990's that was used for a few years, but was disassembled eventually. "Apocalypse Now Redux" was probably the most famous dye transfer print release using the prototype printer.

China also discontinued their dye transfer printer as well. Don't know when. Also don't know if subtitled prints in the U.S. would have used the Chinese prints.

3-strip Technicolor photography died out in the mid 1950's.
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#10 Freya Black

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Posted 08 June 2009 - 04:49 PM

China also discontinued their dye transfer printer as well. Don't know when. Also don't know if subtitled prints in the U.S. would have used the Chinese prints.


*giggle* Good Point! Yes I'd noticed that most Americans are not fluent in Chinese but it kind of slipped my mind! ;)

They could have still made English subtitled prints for Hong Kong or something and ended up shipping them over but then again maybe not!

love

Freya
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#11 Tom Lowe

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Posted 07 July 2009 - 02:09 AM

I just watched this film for the first time. Very powerful framing, and art direction. The sense of the uselessness of Gong Li's character's life is conveyed so clearly by the dull light shining into her room when it's not lit by the lanterns. Though the buildings were beautiful, they were photographed as if they were prisons.

This is yet another example of Asian films using mostly locked-off tripod shots to great effect.

It's interesting to note the similarities between Gong Li in this movie, and Zhang Ziyi in her early performances. I think this is no coincidence.

Though this film has been portrayed as an allegory critical of the communist regime, I felt it was almost more of an exercise in existentialist thought. The ending seems like something straight out of a Dostoyevsky novel.

A superb film.
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