Classic movie, chinese, continental, Wives and concubines is a Zhang Yimou pre-Hero pure juice : committed, visually mannered, a rare cruelty silent. It is clear from the cinema on the 14th of June in a beautiful restored version.
China, 1920s. A castle, a rich man, his four wives, servants. There is something fundamentally theatrical in WIVES AND CONCUBINES : from the first minute of the film, Zhang introduces us to a space that we will never – thus respecting the unity of place, unique to the closed – for three “acts” the seasonal rhythm of this portrait red color of the status of women in an oppressive patriarchy. Known for his penchant feminist, Zhang operates in a territory thematic known, now more than ever, to the apotheosis in the quality of his filmography.
Few human characters, but a lot of protagonists inanimate, starting with this palace without age and those red lanterns that are lit, turned off and moves to the sandstone of the good will of the master. WIVES AND CONCUBINES, it is the dictatorship of men. But it is also the dictatorship of the customs, symbols, and traditions. A code of conduct that dictates life, death, insanity, massages the feet as the birth of children.
Between these four walls, everything is mapped, impassive – each-other, each has its place. In this universe, cutting to the rule, Zhang off first for the human to better the to be born again. A human being, not of flesh, but of blood. The soul of all seems to be sucked out by the cold walls of the castle, the horizon of the female characters and of the camera : we are locked in. It is in this rigour of the staging that the apparent classicism of Zhang takes on its full meaning : painting with a lot of empathy the intimate violence of these social contracts-rigid, choking of the viewer is total. In this world where these women are forced to fight for the interest of a man, nothing can live. Everything is quickly destined to die.
“WIVES AND CONCUBINES is the culmination of the cinema of Zhang Yimou. “Click To Tweet
Some are slipping into madness, while others submit, after be killed in order to see their lantern illuminated the time of an evening. Zhang is very fatalistic, but, above all, very virulent against the chinese society of yesterday and today – and, more generally, discrepancies may still exist between the sexes beyond the borders of the middle Empire.
If the status of women is the obvious source ofWIVES AND CONCUBINES, the great violence of his words is much less obvious. There is, in this hyper-sophistication of out-of-field, a new reminder of the nature poisonous to the framework of Zhang. It is perhaps his greatest stroke of genius : the death itself becomes a ghost, invisible. A ghost like those women who are wandering around and hate. There is more love, trust, or truth. Everything is lies, intrigues and betrayals.
Zhang Yimou knows how to be cruel. WIVES AND CONCUBINES is brutal without being gory, and engaged without being utopian. Giving his muse, Gong Li, the role of his career, he is above all evidence of a remarkable ease when it comes to give life to this microcosm cold to red hues and the geometry surgical. Monument of chinese cinema modern, WIVES AND CONCUBINES is a masterpiece that revolt as much as it moves, both fiendishly sadistic and fatally pessimistic. Its restored version, which is on the 14th of June in our rooms, gives back to the framework of Zhang , all the power of his work macabre and poetic color. A must-see simply.
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• Achievement : Zhang-Yimou
• Scenario : Zhen Ni, Su Tong
• Main actors : Gong Li, He Caifei, Cao Quifen
• Release Date : 20 December 1991 (emerged on June 14, 2017)
• Duration : 2h05min