March 25, 1992 [Raise the Red Lantern]

I have a vague childhood memory of hiding under the bedcovers to weather some household storm--and it must have been a big one because I never fell for that kid cliché--especially when it came to monsters: How could I plan my escape if I couldn’t see them?  But that time I had seen enough, I suppose, and gave in to the impulse to turn everything into pale thin cloud cover, a blank nothing to keep out Something.

Raise the Red Lantern billows a sheet against the world--but it’s the world that’s made safe--or at least blind, so that the lush slavery and personal politics within can push on without a sound, the snow and sun and black night the second set of bedclothes, a double cocoon where beautiful things with short lives and stingers can lie and crack open and spread wings--not to fly away, but to hover over one another, the concubines circling like queen wasps, too many for the hive.

And off in the distance is the rich man who spit out golden wax and built it all: the closed indulgent empire with its unnatural rules followed like laws of nature by queens who believe they rule.  The young college student we follow beats her wings against the soft walls--and I watch her from my own little cell, years ago--not so many, I guess, the moment still in my head as I sit and read subtitles and watch beautiful Women in Chains plot and scheme and despair, cons whose pleas of innocence are neither denied nor heard beneath muffled silk.


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