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Hong Gao Liang (1987)

Drama | 91 minutes
3,45 293 votes

Genre: Drama / War

Duration: 91 minuten

Alternative titles: Red Sorghum / Het Rode Korenveld / 紅高粱

Country: China

Directed by: Yimou Zhang

Starst: Gong Li, Wen Jiang and Teng Ru-jun

IMDb score: 7,3 (9.697)

Releasedate: 10 October 1988


This movie is not available on US streaming services.


Hong Gao Liang plot

As a young girl, the narrator's grandmother is married off to a much older man in the late 1920s in China. She is taken to her husband in a stretcher. On the way they are ambushed and one of the porters, the narrator's grandfather, saves her. Her husband, who owns a winery, is found to have leprosy. He dies and she takes over the distillery. She meets the bearer again and together they successfully run the winery and have a son.

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avatar van Donkerwoud


  • 7943 messages
  • 3519 votes

A debut can start worse than with this cinematographic masterpiece. Yimou Zhang briefly puts down a self-assured epic that convinces from start to finish with brilliant visual inventions and a beautiful visual language. The film is an adaptation of two short stories by writer Mo Yan (also very much worth a try!). The effect of that is that the film also feels a bit unbalanced and incoherent. I think a conscious choice of style to stay true to the original material, but it results in a somewhat distant whole that just doesn't want to come to life.

dutch flagTranslated from Dutch · View original

avatar van Dievegge


  • 2923 messages
  • 7584 votes

Literally translated, the title is Kaffirkoren. This crop has indeed a red color. When they make wine from it, you see the folk superstition and Chinese polytheism. They offer a chalice to the wine god and they believe it is some kind of miracle drink.

Gong Li plays a woman who rebels against feudal and patriarchal society. She is married off, exchanged for a goat and almost raped. After the death of her husband, she proposes to work the land collectively, in line with the ideals of the Cultural Revolution. After the abrupt invasion by the Japanese, these reforms are in jeopardy.

Her lover has a mixture of good and bad qualities. He saves her, but also turns out to be a drunk. His urine is the secret ingredient of the wine - perhaps the taste is similar to Heineken.

The color red has a positive connotation. It is the color of the dress and the tent, and of the field of kaffir in which the narrator's father is incorporated. A red color filter creates a warm atmosphere, although there is a blue filter opposite for the dark evening scenes. It is a sharp look at a woman's eventful life and a piece of Chinese history.

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avatar van Filmkriebel


  • 8749 messages
  • 4034 votes

Another special film by Zhang. What begins as an ordinary rural story about a millet winery, takes an unexpected and wry turn in the last half hour. Age-old traditions are brutally swept away by the war, and the village immediately gains its martyrs. In my eyes, I thought this was an anti-war film, which accuses that violence means the end of culture and traditions (e.g. the bulldozing of the millet fields), and remains in the blood of the next of kin... after all, the narrator is the grandson who retrieve memories. The images are of an overwhelming beauty as always with Zhang. Those songs disappointed me and needlessly stretch the film. The film looks timeless; might as well have been made a few years ago.

dutch flagTranslated from Dutch · View original