Farewell My Concubine
Winner, Palme d’Or, Cannes Film Festival (1993)
14A, violence, mature theme.
Dir: Chen Kaige
China/Hong Kong, 1993, 171 min.
Leslie Cheung, Fengyi Zhang, Gong Li, You Ge.
In Mandarin Chinese with English subtitles.
“Sumptuous and award-winning, Chen Kaige’s Farewell My Concubine is the epic story of the relationship between two actors. Set against a large slice of Chinese history, the film is as successful as it is ambitious. Cheng Dieyi and Duan Xiaolou were boyhood friends when they started their careers in the 1920s, but when Xiaolou marries prostitute Juxian, Dieyi finds it hard to hide his sexual feelings for his friend over the years. Despite the love and repressed passion, it’s China’s history that takes centre stage here. The parallels between the two rivals competing for the love of one man, and the two countries’ claims on one land work well and the backdrop of the Peking Opera, and its backstage world, provides a fascinating setting, as the story progresses from the 20s to the 70s. Gong Li is superb and Cheng Kaige’s direction suitably grandiose.” —Film4
“One of those very rare film spectacles that deliver just about everything the ads are likely to promise: action, history, exotic color, multitudes in confrontation, broad overviews of social and political landscapes, all intimately rooted in a love story of vicious intensity… a vastly entertaining movie.” —The New York Times