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Colby-Sawyer College to Show the Beautiful, Complex Chinese Film 'Raise the Red Lantern'

NEW LONDON, N.H. – One man, multiple lovers, a struggle for power and the fall of those who lose that battle – this describes not another season of “The Bachelor” but rather Zhang Yimou's beautifully filmed and once-controversial exploration of life in a Chinese compound in the 1920s, “Raise the Red Lantern.”

Colby-Sawyer College will show “Raise the Red Lantern” on Wednesday, Feb. 10, at 7 p.m. in Clements Hall of the Curtis L. Ivey Science Center. There is no charge for admission, and the public is invited to attend.

Initially banned in China when released in 1991 because of assumed parallels with the country's political system, this adaptation of Su Tong's novel Wives and Concubines tells the tortured tale of Songlian (Gong Li), a university student who marries at her step-mother's insistence after her father's death. Though it means being a concubine, Songlian decides that if she must marry she may as well marry a wealthy man, and so she enters the Chen compound as a fourth wife.

Within the stone walls of her new life, Songlian's individuality and sanity are extinguished even as the red lanterns are raised and lit over her door. Symbol of Master Chen's nightly preference, and therefore dictator of the chosen one's status within the household, the lanterns illuminate a tangle of adultery, conspiracy, hatred and murder, and show that any glamour in this “privileged” household is oppressive and superficial.

“Raise the Red Lantern” is rated PG and contains violence (murder) and sexual situations.

This film is sponsored by Dr. Ai-Li Sung Chin '39 and the Cultural Events Committee.

To learn about other upcoming events at Colby-Sawyer College visit

-Kate Seamans

Colby-Sawyer, founded in 1837, is a comprehensive liberal arts and sciences college located in the scenic Lake Sunapee Region of central New Hampshire. Students learn in small classes through a select array of programs that integrate the liberal arts and sciences with professional experience.

Colby-Sawyer College, 541 Main Street, New London, N.H. 03257 (603) 526-3000