Film: Hong Gao Liang
Format: Internet video on laptop.
So, the first question I had to answer for myself when embarking on Hong Gao Liang
) is what the bloody hell sorghum is. Evidently, it’s a grain. I sort of knew that, and also sort of knew that it is used to make something like molasses. I’m pretty sure I’ve had sorghum, although that doesn’t mean I know what it is. Anyway, it’s frequently used in the production of liquor, and that’s going to be important for today’s film. Sorghum alcohol is going to, in fact, be central to the narrative.
With that out of the way, it’s time to address the film itself, and let me tell you, it’s a strange one. The entire film is told as a story of the past, narrated by the grandson of Jiu’er (Li Gong), a woman forced into marriage with the leprous (literally) owner of a distillery. She is walked to her wedding day in a sedan chair, and the carriers and musicians are set upon by a bandit. The bandit is stopped, and Jiu’er shares a few sidelong, meaningful glances with one of the sedan chair carriers (Wen Jiang). The marriage happens, and three days later, as per tradition, Jiu’er returns to her parents for a visit. Along the way, she encounters a man dressed like the bandit. It turns out to be the chair porter again, and the two have sex, a fact that leads directly to the birth of the narrator’s father.