Farewell My Concubine

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Poster for the movie "Farewell My Concubine"

Farewell My Concubine (1993)

171 min - Drama - 16 September 1993
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Abandoned by his prostitute mother in 1920, Douzi was raised by a theater troupe. There he meets Shitou and over the following years the two develop an act entitled, "Farewell My Concubine," that brings them fame and fortune. When Shitou marries Juxian, Doutzi becomes jealous, the beginnings of the acting duo's explosive breakup and tragic fall take root.

Director:  Chen Kaige

Storyline

Abandoned by his prostitute mother in 1920, Douzi was raised by a theater troupe. There he meets Shitou and over the following years the two develop an act entitled, "Farewell My Concubine," that brings them fame and fortune. When Shitou marries Juxian, Doutzi becomes jealous, the beginnings of the acting duo's explosive breakup and tragic fall take root.


Collections: Chen Kaige

Genres: Drama

Details

Official Website: 
Country:   China Hong Kong
Language:  普通话
Release Date:  16 September 1993

Box Office

Company Credits

Production Companies: 

Technical Specs

Runtime:  2 h 51 min

History’s effect on private lives along with the search of identity has been a common theme in China’s Fifth Generation films.

Farewell My Concubine is not just impressive in visual aesthetics, scale or even historical scope, but outstanding in how it scrutinizes the interplay between the private and the public as the fate of the Opera, its performers and history parallel each other.

Farewell My Concubine trailer

During the time of the warlords, Cheng Dieyi begins life with the Beijing Opera after his mother leaves him at an opera school. Through the years, Dieyi is transformed into the tragic Concubine Yu who takes her life when her King of Chu is defeated by the King of Han in the opera, and gains popular fame for his superb performance.

But when his dear friend and stage partner, Duen Xiaolou who plays King Chu marries a prostitute, Juxian, his stage role becomes a reality as he becomes second best to Xiaolou. Meanwhile, the opera goes through the turbulent political currents of Japanese Imperialist rule, the Nationalists’ occupation, the Communists’ command and the Cultural Revolution, as do the lives of Dieyi, Xialolou and Juxian, whose love-hate relationship becomes the driving force of their survival during difficult times that have fallen on the opera which once promised them riches and fame.

Interestingly, Farewell My Concubine constantly questions the idea of identity through the notion of “concubine.” If historical fact which provides the premise for the Opera portrays the concubine as the “loyal other,” the film focuses on the “otherness” inflicted by the undercurrents of shifting politics that affects each individual in the film. As a result, It may be Dieyi who plays the concubine in the opera but in reality, Dieyi, Xiaolou and Juxian all become “concubines” who are searching for reason to justify the roles they have no choice but to play for survival.

Hanna Lee

Thanks to Far East Film Festival