I had seen this production live, and was impressed not only by the dancing and the dramatic storyline but by the creativity and beauty of the staging. If you are familiar with Zhang's work in Hero etc., you can anticipate his attention to color and vivid effects in this stage production. This filmed version of the production preserves most of that vitality, although occasionally the camera is a too little far from the action, and the lightening effects are not always completely captured. This DVD is titled in Chinese, and other than the packaging appears to have no revision for Western sale.
I stumbled on this "ballet drama" by mistake, believing it to be the wondrous movie, wishing to save a buck or two. I have yet to see the final act?, thus far only into the heroine's fling with the young operatic juvenile lead, but I am wide-eyed astonished at the seamless staging, production, costuming, AND technical "finish" of the protagonists, principals AND "chorus." My hearing is such that I have no idea and no inkling of the music score. But, as ballet and theater, this Zhang epic is likely the omega to the alpha of the early "White-Haired Girl"? In my day, the American ballet companies boasted, usually, a half-dozen stellar principals and a relatively raggedy band of aspirants, from the American Ballet Theater to the New York City Ballet to the de Cuevas troupe, they were ALL less than tidy. More to the point, their repertoires were mouldy and shaky. I never saw the Bolshoi NOR the Kirov, Leningrad?, troupes, but "our" superior esthetics branded them elephantine and pre-Balanchine gauche. No doubt they were. And, no doubt, this Chinese version of the latter is not much more chic OR "with-it"? But, Zhang, or, more likely, his "choreographer" here has made a statement that western balletomanes may ignore to their loss. "Red Lantern" here is a new brand of kitsch, beautifully envisioned and realized, thematically and dramatically integrated and projected. Its dancers are astonishing, much like that ballerina perched on the arm of her partner and on his heae. The base and the forerunner to the incredible Olympics stagings? Now, if only the state ballet and Zhang can ADD the more intimate "human" elements. That will be the day when "ballet" truly meets "modern."