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Farewell My Concubine (1993)

Ba wang bie ji (original title)
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
...
Han Lei ...
Xiao Si (adult)
Di Tong ...
Zhang the Eunuch
...
Douzi as a Teenager
Mingwei Ma ...
Douzi as a Child
Hailong Zhao ...
Shitou as a Teenager
Yang Fei ...
Shitou as a Child
Dan Li ...
Laizi / Peking Opera schoolboy
Yongchao Yang ...
Laizi as a Child
Fei Huang ...
Old Master

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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
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Miramax Filmsmogul "Harvey Weinstein" purchased the distribution rights and removed ten minutes. This is the version seen in U.S. theaters (and also in the U.K.) According to Peter Biskind's book, "Down and Dirty Pictures: Miramax, Sundance and the Rise of Independent Film", Louis Malle, who was president of the Cannes jury that year, said: "The film was admired so much in Cannes is not the film seen in this country (referring to the U.S.), which is twenty minutes shorter - but seems longer because it doesn't make any sense. It was better before those guys made cuts." The uncut version of the film was released on DVD by Miramax and Disney, and is the original 171-minute version. 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 Veronica Mars (2014) See more »

Soundtracks

Can't Understand
Composed by Jiping Zhao© 1993 Varese Sarabande
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

 
A fine movie, truly an epic.
27 May 1999 | by (Los Angeles, CA) – See all my reviews

I finally got a chance to see "Farewell my Concubine." I'd been anxious to see it since its initial release in 1993. It surprised me in its depth and technical skill.

Three points make this film outstanding. The first is the technical skill of the director and the luscious taste of the director of photography. The entire film is a feast for the eyes, taking full advantage of elaborate costumes and exotic locations. The second strength is in the actual storytelling. The plot is a fascinating tragedy, it feels almost Shakespearean. The acting is nothing short of incredible. Some of China's finest actors demonstrate their ability to carry a story that covers 52 years. Normally, these two strengths alone would be reason enough to see a film, but "Farewell my Concubine" succeeds in satisfying one more category (the bain of any epic): historical accuracy.

"Farewell my Concubine" is exceptionally accurate in portraying the monumental changes that were sweeping China at the time. The film doesn't just treat these events as background events, but drags them right into the plot and pins the characters into their surroundings. This is interesting when you consider that the story takes place in the Peking Opera, not the most likely place for these events to have effect. Instead, as we see the new China emerge, we watch these vestiges of old society fall, and the work of all involved make this transition an achievement to behold. The power of this film was not missed by Chinese censors who banned, removed, and then banned the film again several times over -debating whether or not its artistic brilliance was worth subversive portrayals of suicide and homosexuality. Unlike "The Last Emperor," this film was made by Chinese film makers and is in tune with its subject. I recommend this film highly!

As one last note, the version I saw was a DVD containing the original 170 minute version of the film, in its wide-screen splendor. From what I understand, the shorter versions released internationally deleted and shortened some opera scenes for fear that they would be lost on Western audiences. Having no prior experience with any Peking Opera, I found the scenes fascinating and integral to appreciating the entire story. Spend the extra time if you can.


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