Red Sorghum, by Zhang Yimou

The RAS is pleased to announce the next film screening: on the 19th of August, we will watch Red Sorghum, a visually stunning melodrama that is told with simplicity but also with extraordinary strength. Red Sorghum hailed the beginning of a renaissance in Chinese cinema and won many accolades internationally. In the 1920s and 1930s, a young bride named Jiu’er (Gong Li) departs from her family home to marry an old man who she has never met: the owner of a sorghum liquor distillery. According to the local custom, she has to be carried in a sedan by a group of men across the barren yellow earth, ridiculed in her bumpy seat before married off to her husband. As the party makes its way through a field of sorghum, they are attacked by a bandit. One of the sedan carriers (Jiang Wen) saves Jiu’er from the assailant and the two fall in love. Times passes. Up to this point, the film has had the feel of a fairy-tale – dreamlike, romantic and scenic. Then World War II begins …Red Sorghum marked the directorial debut of internationally acclaimed filmmaker Zhang Yimou (张艺谋), whose career started as a cinematographer and an actor. With its lush portrayal of life on the yellow earth of northern China’s Loess Plateau, it immediately vaulted Zhang to the forefront of the Fifth Generation directors. Gong Li and Jiang Wen each delivered a brilliant acting performance, which were the start of stellar careers and international stardom. The story is adapted from the book Red Sorghum Clan written by the distinguished Mo Yan (莫言), the 2012 winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature. The film won the Golden Bear Award at 38th Berlin Film Festival, Film Critics Award at Sydney Film Festival in 1988 and China’s Golden Rooster Awards for Best Story, Best Cinematography, Best Music and Best Sound in 1988.