PR China 1987, 120 min., German subtitles
Shortly after she is forced to marry a distiller, 18-year-old Jiur is widowed. Together with the great love of her life, sedan-chair carrier Yu, the young woman decides to modernise her deceased husband’s distillery. A happy but short life begins - until the Japanese invade China and decide to construct a road through Jiur’s cornfield.
After the novel of the same title by Mo Yan. Zhang Yimou’s debut as a director of the film that made a star of actress Gong Li was awarded the Golden Bear at the 1988 Berlin Film Festival.
Mixing Memory and Desire
For some Chinese, watching Red Sorghum could almost be a traumatic experience. Strikingly rough, forthright, rugged, bold and unrestrained both stylistically and morally to Chinese tastes, the film is a shocking affront to many cherished and received formulae of Chinese cultural praxis; to the deep-rooted Confucian ethical and moral codes of sobriety and decorum; to the ingrained artistic codes favouring strategies of concealment and restraint; and to the aesthetic taste which prioritises emotional delicacy and refinement. Never before has the medium of Chinese cinema been so unquestionably given over to the countenancing containment of an unbridled and abandoned manner of life and visual wantonness and crudity.
From: Yuejin Wang, „Mixing Memory and Desire“, in: Perspectives on Chinese Cinema, ed. by Chris Berry, British Film Institute 1991. p. 80