Farewell My Concubine (1993)

December 3, 2003 • Film, Reviews

What has been said about this sweeping historical epic is all true – ambitious, lavish, shocking and masterful. Spanning 53 years of China’s history, Farewell to My Concubine is the intimate story of boyhood friends who endure brutal apprenticeship to become world famous Peking Opera stars by playing the male and female leads onstage. Their hardships and tumultuous relationship parallel the changing politics and culture of a China giving birth to a new nation.

farewell1Leslie Cheung is bewitching as the delicate Douzi, who must hide his homosexual obsession for his friend, the older, masculine Xiaolou (played by Zhang Fengyi) by becoming his most famous character: A concubine who would rather slit her own throat than leave her king upon his dethronement. The two friends are inseparable until the oblivious Xiaolou takes a former prostitute (played by the luminous Gong Li) as his wife.

*Scenes from Farewell My Concubine
© Miramax Films


“A vastly entertaining movie. Sink into it with pleasure and count it a cultural achievement.”
—Vincent Canby, The New York Times

“An epic spanning a half century of modern Chinese history, and a
melodrama about life backstage at the famed Peking Opera…Leslie Cheung’s concubine…essentially raised by the opera as a homosexual whether or not he consents – contains labyrinthine emotional currents…This is one of the year’s best films.”
—Roger Ebert, Chicago-Sun Times

“A thrilling love story, a political epic and an intimate character study rolled into one stunning package. If you’ve never seen a non-English language film before, find this one. It’s just that good.”
—Scott Renshaw, Stanford University

farewell2“Lavish, splendorous. ornate — these and other overdressed adjectives belong to “Farewell My Concubine,” the Chinese movie that took the top prize at Cannes…A lengthy costume spectacle about two Peking Opera stars, it’s also a political melodrama, an updated fable about unconditional love; and with its coyly veiled homosexual themes, a tweaking test for the freedom-phobic Beijing regime.”
—Desson Howe, Washington Post

Director: Chen Kaige
Producer: Hse Feng
Writer: Lilian Lee and Lu Wei
Cinematography: Gu Changwei

Cast: Leslie Cheung Kwok-Wing, Zhang Fengyi, Gong Li, Ge You, Qi Lu

Country: China
Language: Mandarin, Cantonese and Japanese
Running Time: 172 min


•Won the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival – 1993.
•Won Golden Globe Awards for the Best Foreign Language Film – 1993
•Won the BAFTA [British Academy Award]: Best Foreign Language Film – 1993
•Nominated for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film – 1993
•Won the Japanese Critic Society Best Actor Award (Foreign Movie): Leslie Cheung 1994

Related Posts

Comments are closed.

« »