Analysis of Red Sorghum Essay

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Analysis of Red Sorghum

WHEN Zhang Yimou made his directorial debut, Zhang Yimou made his directorial debut, Red Sorghum, in 1987, he was better known as a cinematographer whose talent had been crucial to the success of critically acclaimed films like Zhang Junzhao's One and Eight (1984, released 1987) and Chen Kaige's Yellow Earth (1984). Not only did Red Sorghum become a seminal film of the Fifth Generation, it also won the Golden Bear at Berlin in 1988, becoming the first mainland Chinese film ever to be awarded the highest honour at a major international film competition.
Set in the 1920s and '30s in northern China, Red Sorghum's narrative centres on the fate of a young woman who is forced to marry a rich old leper but who
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Gong Li, who has since become China's most well-known female star, confesses that she can easily identify with the headstrong Nine: "Jiu dares to act and take responsibility for her actions; she dares to love and hate. She is fearless. I think our temperaments are similar. I was interested in the role and was confident I could play it well."(1) In this scene, Nine's impassive features reveal a hint of defiance and a touch of boredom as she sits in brooding silence. Parting the red curtain before her ever so slightly, she seems to be mesmerised by the sight of the bare, muscular back belonging to one of the sedan carriers whom we later know as Yu, the narrator's grandfather (played with finesse by Jiang Wen).
The seemingly innocuous image of sexual curiosity provides the first suggestion of Nine's eroticism. The sedan chair carriers, all earthy and muscular peasants, tease Nine about her impending fate as the wife of Big Head Li, their leprous boss. Nine, too proud to reply to their jibing, obstinately remains silent. Wishing to break down her reserve and at the same time acting in accordance with the local custom, the men jolt the wedding sedan chair and make fun of the bride in a raucous song. As they sing and dance in synchronized steps with clouds of sand and dust flying around them, the revellers create a mythical image of solidarity,

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