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Ba wang bie ji
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Reviews & Ratings for
Farewell My Concubine More at IMDbPro »Ba wang bie ji (original title)

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This should be the movie that opens American eyes to the wonders of Chinese cinema.

Author: XiaoPutao from China
2 February 2016

"Farewell My Concubine" is two films at once: an epic spanning a half century of modern Chinese history, and a melodrama about life backstage at the famed Peking Opera. Indeed, Chen's remarkable movie uses an unusual love triangle to telescope more than 50 years of tumultuous Chinese history, and it is neatly divided into eight chapters, each section representing a different era.

As the line between the protagonists' art and lives is smudged, they play their roles without deviation or variation, both on-stage and off. Their relationship is portrayed with depth, sensitivity, and realism, creating a real and powerful illustration of human interaction that depicts layers of hatred and love.

Appropriately operatic, this visually spectacular film is sumptuous in every respect, but its message is unrelievedly tragic. It is a narrative of sorrowful paradoxes where good intentions inevitably go wrong.

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One of the best movies made by Chinese

Author: Almandine from China
3 January 2016

It came astounding to me that a Chinese movie made in 1993 could present so delicately people on such personal levels, as real imperfect human beings, without a haunting habit of moral judgment.

As a movie that has a story line flowing with the stream of history, it is better that Huo Zhe, the highest rated Chinese Movie to date, in an artistic sense. May be because the protagonist, a true artist, is much more sensitive, idealistic and paranoid, thus giving the movie more color and vigor. The story of Huo Zhe on the other hand, is applicable to the majority of Chinese, the ones that do not fight back. Also this is a masterpiece where not even one line or one scene is abundant.

This is not a movie to be missed. The story telling is friendly to those who have a limited knowledge of Chinese history.

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An intriguing tale, spanning over 50 years.

Author: akash_sebastian from India
20 August 2015

An intriguing tale, with a fascinating chunk of modern Chinese history serving as the background. Spanning over 50 years, the film tells about the ups and downs of a traditional Peking Opera troupe, and its two stars, from 1924 to 1977. Not only do we see the various political events of the time, but also how the traditional opera and its stars are treated during different eras.

The two stars, Dieyi and Xiaolou, are brought up and trained to play specific roles - that of concubine and king respectively - in a famous play. Dieyi (Douzi) is trained, or should I say, forced to behave, sing, move and dance like a girl, from a very young age. The two of them share a unique and close bond, and this balance gets affected when a woman, Juxian, enters the picture. Their political naiveté get them into many problems, but it's their properly unresolved love triangle that causes more trouble.

The lines between fact and fiction are blurred when we realise the similarities between the play and their actual lives. Dieyi's devotion to opera and Xiaolou are as strong as the concubine's devotion to the king. (The lines are blurred even more when Leslie Cheung, bisexual himself, takes his life in 2003) The end is inevitable, as we realise while the story progresses, but it's reached with proper momentum and after an intriguing chain of events.

The acting by the three leads is really terrific. Leslie Cheung as the female-role playing opera star who's completely devoted to his art, Fengyi Zhang as a talented and playful man who can easily separate his private and work lives, and Gong Li as the prostitute-turned-wife whose shades of determination and compassion keeps us from not having a fixed view of her character. With Chen Kaige's talented direction and Gu Changwei's spectacular cinematography, the movie has many colourful and memorable scenes.

I really liked the movie, and wasn't bored for a single second. The movie deals with so many interesting themes - Modern Chinese history, sexuality, art and its reception, devotion and passion - but yet it somehow makes me feel that it had the potential to be much more compelling. Other than the political events, the characters could have been explored a little more.

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A Story of the Chinese Opera

Author: gavin6942 from United States
6 May 2015

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

Right off the bat, I must say I do not get the high-pitched Asian singing. I say Asian and not Chinese because I know the Hmong people of Laos do the same thing, leading me to believe this is a cross-cultural thing. And not all the time, as is evidenced by the "normal" singing over the closing credits.

But that aside (which could probably be resolved by my reading more), this is a strong, semi-epic story of love and song. The costumes are beautiful, and in many ways this seems more like Japanese cinema rather than Chinese, with the elaborate costumes calling to mind samurai stories and other tales.

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Rich epic

Author: SnoopyStyle
9 March 2015

It's 1977 Beijing and things are better. In 1924, Shitou is the lead boy in Master Guan's performing troupe in Beijing. Laizi tries to run away but fails. A mother from the brothel tries to leave her son with Guan but he refuses because of an extra finger. In desperation, she chops off his extra finger. They call him Douzi. It is a tough existence of brutal beatings and rigorous training. Years later, Laizi and Douzi run away. Douzi is so entranced by an opera performance. He becomes determined to take as many beatings as needed to be a star. They return to the troupe. Douzi willingly takes the beatings but Laizi hangs himself. Shitou and Douzi become close with Shitou taking the male roles and Douzi taking on the female roles. Shitou gets engaged to manipulative Juxian causing a rift between the duo. The story is rich. It is original. The acting is terrific. It is compelling. It is a long movie but it's an epic from another era. It's engaging from start to finish.

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it's not simply about homosexual

Author: dioxine_dioxine from Taiwan (R.O.C.)
31 May 2014

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

people ask if Cheng DieYi is gay.... Well he probably is, but not genetically, as far as I know.. We can see from the beginning, while he was young and was under training, he refused to say "I'm a girl" in the play. It was the lasting punishment from his teacher, and, most importantly, the disappointment from Xiao ShiTou (that scene when Xiao ShiTou punish Xiao DouZi) transformed him. The day he said out loud " I'm a girl, not a boy", he was transformed... He dedicated to JingJu (Chinese drama) so much and played his role too well that he couldn't realize that he's actually a man. And so during he's cooperation with Duan XiaoLou, he couldn't help love him so madly.... I think the greatness in this movie is not simply homosexual love. It's also about Cheng DieYi's love for his career. And the movie demonstrated how actor like him dedicated to Chinese drama in that era; and how all those poor people survived (or not) during wars and those dark ages...

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A Great Movie

Author: sdjkjkjkjkjk from China
16 July 2013

There is no doubt that this is a great movie. You could check out the awards it won. I just want to mention that the main hero of this movie is Leslie Cheung who is my favorite singer.One of his great song is When Love Fades Away(in Chinese Dang Ai Yi Cheng Wang Shi)that is the theme song of this movie. If you are interested in this song, you might as well give it a try. Well, it's a mandarin song, but as the saying goes" Music knows no boundary between countries".You might be impressed by the emotion it expresses. Besides, the following songs sung by Leslie are also great if you I want to know more.Silence is golden(Chen Mo Shi Jin)、In My Life Time(Jin Sheng Jin Shi)、Blamefully Beautiful(Guai Ni Guo Fen Mei Li)、The One Who Doesn't Want To Hold Me(Bu Xiang Yong Bao Wo De Ren)

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Such love one day tow one day is false

Author: junyules liu from China
15 July 2013

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Their love is humble and fierce. A lens is the deepest impression is butterfly garment rehabilitation building successful time to feed his drug sitting beside him, then senior teacher younger brother came in to see him when he shy smile and section of the building of ridicule him JiaoChen to choke him. He must feel very happy, in front of house so his sat next to him, even the chrysanthemum fairy said nothing. Women love to the old and the man to love is different. She is very pure love, true don't contain false naked love, want a birthright and he always followed her and to all people。When the cultural revolution was small four edges out don't her position at chrysanthemum fairy butterfly their makeup Chrysanthemum fairy, is really old, and she can be as beauty live forever in front of process adjustment. Her for so long, finally building Shouting I draw a line with her divorce with her. So she has always been to maintain the backbone. Yes, love can be a woman in my life the only really important things. How much she loved him, she also don't know. As she is such a status woman is not in a position to choose who don't have the right to love, wins is won. Actually I also thought she had won. If what can let him to heart, also is the dress from the back of the red wedding clothes. So I feel or butterfly garment more happiness. He love of so humble so no dignity but he can enjoy his easily Cheng butterfly heart remember is a sword Once we knew maybe a movie is a book album song at a concert Said you want to see I will go to buy and then lend you see film you say well I will go down seriously read and then tell you feel your best I'll wait for you whole looping remember every sentence lyrics say I can come then gloat. But we did not process adjustment so heart. After all, can turn around you don't have yourself, do you want to go to the east I like to do you want to go to the west I accompany you to use do you want to bully me do YuJi you want to break the selling watermelon came up I just far looking at you is like a difficult to cross the river. Final adjustment committed suicide. You should not meet, so then you may not love. The one you should not known well, so then you may not lovesick. The one you should not accompany, so then you may not owe. The one you should not pity, so then you may not recall. The one you should not love, so then you may not abandon. Had better not is opposite, so then you may not meet. The one you should not harm, so then you may not negative. Had better not mutually, so then you may not continue. Had better not linked, so then you may not match. Had better not meet, so then you may not meet. But once meet bosom friend, meet what to see. Monarch was Andrew tactic, not teach hard for acacia.

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Complex story- Great rendering

Author: ecaprarie from Italy
13 June 2006

I first saw the movie right after it being awarded the Palme d'Or at Cannes Festival 1993 along with 'The Piano', the co-winner. I have seen it again and again more than ten times, at least, despite its length, amounting to nearly 3 hours of footage. One of the reasons why I saw it so many times is that I translated its dialogs from Chinese into Italian for its dubbing. Nearly all movies are dubbed in Italy. The language spoken by the old people was quite formal, while children were more colloquial and, sometimes, vulgar. There also were passages reminiscent of historical events and literary quotations.

What impressed me from the very beginning was the fast rhythm of the whole movie, quite different from that of nearly all the Chinese movies I saw in the past. 'Red Lanterns', the great movie by by Zhang Yimou, is entirely different, just to quote one.

The sung parts were clearly performed by non professional Peking Opera actors, but they were essential to the narration itself and not many people may have realized it.

Actors and the actress, Gong Li, are excellent.

The movie is a remarkable portrait of the Chinese society during a few crucial decades: a masterpiece!

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1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

..vitally human, beautifully artistic..

Author: fimimix from United States
14 March 2007

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

...don't even try to figure-out what you're missing from the Chinese language in the sub-titles...just revel in this lush movie, which you'll never see again in an American film. This could only be filmed in China, in their native manner. You'll also get an education about Chinese history, even though you may have lived through it all and didn't understand it. I encourage you to read all of the comments given here - I'm sure they contain many aspects of the film that I've missed, the several times I've viewed it......and, I haven't seen the uncut version.

It is very easy to determine that "Douzi" (Leslie Cheung) is flat-out gay from the moment you see him, although some reviewers characterize him as "asexual". He is thrust into a brutally cultural "opera-school", where living the performance is mandatory. Although most of the students deride the tender-looking boy, one of them (Fengi Shang, "Shitou") recognizes he's found his life-companion and actor/actress partner. There is little subtlety in his protecting this fragile boy. Of course, as he ages, he also must live his heterosexual life, and hides his true love by repeatedly telling "Douzi" he is fantasizing, he cannot separate his persona between the stage and his true life. BULL ! the only time he denies his strong love is during the revolutionary (?) Chinese era, to save his own neck.

During this couple's rise to national stardom, there are some strange and extremely fascinating characters introduced into the story - including the fabulous portrayal of a whore-turned-loving wife by Li Gong ("Juxian"). I have learned to recognize the characters by their faces: I don't even ATTEMPT to remember their names.

I won't reveal any of the story, because that's the pleasure of understanding it in-spite-of the difficulty of keeping-up with it, from the Chinese. One learns that the world's people ARE the same, no matter what race they may be - and that human nature is no different, only exploited and twisted to suit a nationality's purpose.

As many have written, this is a movie to view as a life-experience. It is powerful and gorgeous, pre-"Brokeback Mountain" in another language. Director Kaige Chen made a masterpiece from Lillian Lee's (and other's) writing. I can fault nothing about this film. Every intelligent adult should see it several times, to capture the multi-staged plots and realize life is life, no matter where you live it.

Definitely a 40...........see it !

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