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Farewell My Concubine (1993)

Ba wang bie ji (original title)
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1:15 | Trailer

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The story of two men, who met as apprentices in the Peking Opera, and stayed friends for over 50 years.

Director:

Writers:

(novel) (as Lillian Lee), (screenplay) (as Lillian Lee) | 1 more credit »
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Nominated for 2 Oscars. Another 18 wins & 6 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
...
...
Qi Lü ...
Master Guan
Da Ying ...
Manager
...
Chun Li ...
Xiao Si (in his teens)
Han Lei ...
Xiao Si (adult)
Di Tong ...
Zhang the Eunuch
Mingwei Ma ...
Douzi as a Child
Yang Fei ...
Shitou as a Child
Zhi Yin ...
Douzi as a Teenager
Hailong Zhao ...
Shitou as a Teenager
Dan Li ...
Laizi / Peking Opera schoolboy
Wenli Jiang ...
Douzi's Mother
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Storyline

"Farewell, My Concubine" is a movie with two parallel, intertwined stories. It is the story of two performers in the Beijing Opera, stage brothers, and the woman who comes between them. At the same time, it attempts to do no less than squeeze the entire political history of China in the twentieth century into a three-hour time-frame. Written by Michael Kim <leda@imsa.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

The passionate story of two lifelong friends and the woman who comes between them.

Genres:

Drama | Music | Romance

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for language and strong depiction of thematic material | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Official Sites:

Country:

|

Language:

Release Date:

15 October 1993 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Farewell My Concubine  »

Box Office

Gross:

$5,216,888 (USA)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (USA) (theatrical)

Sound Mix:

Color:

(flashback sequence)|

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Included among the "1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die", edited by Steven Schneider. See more »

Goofs

In the streets on the eve of the Communist takeover (1948), Dieyi and Xiaolou watch the chaos unfold while seen between them in the background is Master Zhang the Eunuch. The next shot reveals Master Zhang sitting across the street from them. See more »

Quotes

Master Yuan: A smile ushers in the spring.
Master Yuan: A tear does darken all the world.
Master Yuan: How truly does this befit you. To you... only you are possessed of such charm.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Gilmore Girls: Women of Questionable Morals (2005) See more »

Soundtracks

Farewell My Concubine Suite (Part II)
Composed by Jiping Zhao
© 1993 Varese Sarabande
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

 
One of the best Chinese films... ever!
29 May 2003 | by See all my reviews

One of the best Chinese films...ever!

The story was touching and brilliant, packed with unforgettable scenes: The Dickens-like portrayal of the young Peking opera performers undergoing training was heart-breaking. The presence of Japanese, Nationalist and Communnist troops were powerful reminders of Modern China's torrential times. The class struggle scene was a painfully poignant reference to the inhumanity of Maoist China (especially for those Chinese old-timers who vividly remember the days of the Cultural Revolution). And off course, the last scene was nothing short of stunning. It begs the viewer to open another box of tissues.

One scene that particularly had me in tears was when Douzi was going through his opium withdrawal and he starts shivering, "It's so cold. Mother, the water's frozen." It was clearly a heart-breaking reference to the earlier days of his arduous youth.

The acting was also superb. Leslie Cheung's portrayal of the effeminate Douzi was hynoptically convincing. (Especially compared to his usual roles in HK action flicks). Gong Li constantly demands our attention with her stunning beauty and charm. Last but not least, Zhang Fengyi's portrayal of the masculine Shitou was excellent. I can't imagine anyone else taking his role.

It's refreshing to see such an intelligent and historic Chinese epic (especially after watching all those deadbrain gun-toting HK action flicks) Director Chen Kaige did a wonderful job portraying the complex and often uneasy love affair between the two stage brothers. He also managed to skillfully express profound themes that resonated throughout the film. Fate, loyalty, class struggle, the parallels between Opera and Life, and other ideas leave the viewer dazed in deep thoughts for hours after the film.

Because of the heavy references to modern Chinese events, some viewers may be confused by this film. While modern Chinese history is not a pre-requisite, I believe knowing the basics would definitely enhance the experience of this film. But nonetheless, this is quite possibly one of the best Chinese films... ever. Take it from me: Rent this one NOW!

Trivia Note: The "struggle scene" (where the Red Guards dragged out Douzi and Shitou in front of the mob for confession) was based upon the real-life experience of Director Chen Kaige. Chen suffered the same fate when he was purged during the Cultural Revolution. In fact, he denounced his own father, an act which he later regretted.


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