I’m a huge Zhang Yimou fan and especially his films with Li Gong from the very first one I saw which was Raise the Red Lantern, so this week has been a trip down memory lane.
Red Sorghum was his first film in 1987 and their first together. His shots of the wild sorghum fields are somewhat reminiscent of Tarkovsky. Li Gong plays the strong female lead who takes over control of the winery of the man she had been forced to marry when he dies. Narrated by her grandson, the story starts with her journey to marry the leper, her attempt to return to her family after having stopped the consummation of the marriage, and her return to the now dead leper’s winery, persuading the staff to stay on, their successful wine harvest and the arrival of the Japanese army to build a road and their destruction of the sorghum fields. The films shows signs of what was to come from both director and leading lady.