Red Sorghum

TitleRed Sorghum
Publication TypeFilm
Year of Publication1987
AuthorsYimou, Zhang
Running Time91 minutes
Date Released1987
DistributorXi'an Film Studio
Publication LanguageMandarin

Based on the novel Red Sorghum Clan by Nobel laureate Mo Yan and winner of the Berlin Film Festival's Golden Bear, this debut film from Zhang Yimou celebrates peasant life during the Chinese Civil War and before the Sino-Japanese War. On her way to marry a wealthy, old distillery owner, bandits attack Jiu'er's wedding party in a sorghum field. The man who saves her also rapes her, leaving her pregnant. After the death of her husband, Jiu'er inspires the peasant workers and begins to run a successful distillery. The arrival of Japanese soldiers brutally destroy their rural idyll.


Gong Li

Jiang Wen

Teng Rujun


Produced by Wu Tianming

Directed by Zhang Yimou

Written by Chen Jianyu and Zhu Wei

Cinematography by Gu Changwei

Music by Zhao Jiping


Drama, Romance, War

Alternate TitleHong gao liang
Original Publication紅高粱
Full Text

Director Zhang Yimou was part of the Fifth Generation of Chinese directors, the first group to graduate from the Beijing Film Academy since the Cultural Revolution. They abandoned social realism that had characterized the previous era and explored unorthodox themes and topics. They found international acclaim and success, which paralleled the softening of China beginning in the mid-1980s. 

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