Master filmmaker Zhang Yimou (Raise the Red Lantern, House of Flying Daggers) made the second of six NYFF appearances with this visually stunning, sexually charged melodrama set in a dye factory in rural China at the turn of the 20th century. When the sadistic factory owner takes a third wife (having murdered the first two), his nephew finds himself falling for the woman, named Ju Dou (played by the ravishing Gong Li, in one of her first major roles). They soon embark on an affair and conceive a child, which the owner believes to be his. But as the years pass, the truth gradually bubbles to the surface, and a series of lurid twists and turns set the characters on a tragic collision course with the fates. Shot in eye-popping color by Oscar-nominated cinematographer Changwei Gu (Farewell My Concubine), Ju Dou was banned by Chinese authorities, but nevertheless went on to become the country’s first-ever Oscar nominee for Best Foreign Language Film.
“A sort of Chinese The Postman Always Rings Twice, this macabrely pleasurable drama of adulterous passion may well be the most sensuously ravishing and erotic film ever to come out of the People’s Republic.” —NYFF28 program note
“The ending of Ju Dou is as lurid and melodramatic as anything conceived by Poe or filmed by Bunuel, and it exhibits justice completely untempered by mercy.” —Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times