This is a story about a man who becomes a eunuch. It opens during the years of the Chinese Republic and how he is treated as an outcast and a freak with Europeans swarming to see what a eunuch really looks like. The movie is a sad movie, it is a strong and emotional movie about how far a person would go to find a woman that he loves.
This is a strong and sad movie which I enjoyed watching. We watch the main character as his relationship with this woman is built at the beginning of the movie, yet he is willing to give her up to his best friend. Then the imperial guards appear and take her to the emperor to be one of his concubines, in which he leaves to find her. After searching he learns that the only way he can get to her is to become a eunuch for only eunuchs are allowed in the forbidden city. As such, he agrees to become one, and even though he changes his mind, it is too late and his life changes. He finds her but he is not longer able to express the physical love he has for her.
This movie is about love and lust. The eunuch is compared with the emperor. The emperor has everything yet the woman refuses to have him, instead she sticks by the eunuch because of the compassion that he shows to her. The movie does focus a lot on the emperor and how he lives a life of debauchery. The women are there for him and the eunuchs serve him. Everything in the forbidden city is focused on the Emperor and everybody there is under his full authority. Except for the Mother Buddha who seems to wield all of the power. She appears to be his mother and a wise woman, but it seems that the Emperor, with all of his power, is little more than her puppet.
This is also a very disturbing movie, watching the Emperor mistreat all of the people under him. The women are taken, used, and discarded. The men are all eunuchs and it seems as if a whole part of there life has been denied to them. It comes down to the male fear of castration, as that part of their body is the defining part of their masculinity, remove that and they are no longer a male. Yet this movie has the eunuch still able to do everything, except to physically express his love to the woman. He becomes a freak and an outcast, yet the movie gives him an identity and a reason behind what he really is.
During the movie the emperor dies and the Imperial Chinese State is destroyed. After the fall of the empire, all of the mysticism of the Chinese Empire seems to go with it. He smashes the casket holding his genitals against the wall saying that it no longer means anything. The empire is gone, and it was an empire that was divinely sanctioned. He has seen the emperor and what the truth is behind it. The mysticism that surrounds the forbidden city and the emperor is gone and the mysticism behind the eunuchs is also gone. He thus becomes little more than an outcast, cursed and shunned from society.
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