8.1/10
24,589
120 user 45 critic

Farewell My Concubine (1993)

Ba wang bie ji (original title)
Trailer
1:56 | Trailer
Two boys meet at an opera training school in Peking in 1924. Their resulting friendship will span nearly 70 years and will endure some of the most troublesome times in China's history.

Director:

Kaige Chen

Writers:

Pik Wah Lee (novel) (as Lillian Lee), Pik Wah Lee (screenplay) (as Lillian Lee) | 1 more credit »
Reviews
Nominated for 2 Oscars. Another 25 wins & 8 nominations. See more awards »

Videos

Photos

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Leslie Cheung ... Cheng Dieyi (segment "Douzi")
Fengyi Zhang ... Duan Xiaolou (segment "Shitou")
Li Gong ... Juxian
You Ge ... Master Yuan
Da Ying Da Ying ... Manager
Qi Lü Qi Lü ... Master Guan
Han Lei Han Lei ... Xiao Si (adult)
Di Tong Di Tong ... Zhang the Eunuch
Zhi Yin ... Douzi as a Teenager
Mingwei Ma Mingwei Ma ... Douzi as a Child
Hailong Zhao Hailong Zhao ... Shitou as a Teenager
Yang Fei Yang Fei ... Shitou as a Child
Dan Li ... Laizi / Peking Opera schoolboy
Yongchao Yang Yongchao Yang ... Laizi as a Child
Fei Huang 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:

View content advisory »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Ranked number 12 non-English-speaking film in the critics' poll conducted by the BBC in 2018. 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.
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Alternate Versions

The version presented in the U.S. is different from the original, longer cut, that was distributed internationally. The following differences exist in the U.S. version:
  • The scene where Duan and Juxian are drinking after their wedding was originally directly after the wedding scene, rather than after the bloodletting at the Yuan-Cheng dinner.
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Soundtracks

Farewell My Concubine Suite (Part I)
Composed by Jiping Zhao
© 1993 Varese Sarabande
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User Reviews

 
A fine movie, truly an epic.
27 May 1999 | by Bobak!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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Frequently Asked Questions

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Details

Official Sites:

Official site

Country:

China | Hong Kong

Language:

Mandarin

Release Date:

15 October 1993 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Farewell My Concubine See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$4,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$69,408, 17 October 1993

Gross USA:

$5,216,888

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$5,985,074
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (USA) (theatrical)

Sound Mix:

Dolby

Color:

Black and White (flashback sequence)| Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

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