From the twenties to the seventies the Warlord era to the cultural Revolution, from the japanese invasion to the communists ruling… The story of two actors from the Pekin Opera, and a concubine, in th e fifty years that changed China. —Cannes Film Festival
Chen Kaige is one of China’s most prominent and influential directors, and perhaps the central figure in China’s Fifth Generation of filmmakers. Born Chen Aige in Beijing, he was the son of noted director Chen Huaiai, who directed a number of popular films during the 1950s and 1960s. As the chaos of Mao Zedong’s Cultural Revolution was gathering steam, Chen, a 15-year-old member of the notorious Red Guard, publicly denounced his father. He later partially reenacted that day during the heartbreaking climax of Farewell, My Concubine (1989). During the late ‘60s, he was sent to labor in a rubber plantation in southwestern Yunnan province. Later, he served in the army but remained in the area. In 1975, as Mao’s reign was drawing to a close, Chen returned to his hometown to work at the Beijing Film Processing Laboratory. Mao’s successor, Deng Xiaopeng, set about undoing much of the destruction of Mao’s bloody final decade, which included opening the nation’s schools and academies. In 1978… read more
A shattering work of historical melodrama -- like the opera threaded through its narrative from which the film takes its name -- Farewell My Concubine's formidable tragic resonance gains additional levels of pathos from the viewer's knowledge of Chen's own deeply compromised participation in the Cultural Revolution. Leslie Cheung's suicide years later casts yet another shadow over an already haunting, wrenching tale.
Rewatch. The first time I watched it in a theater I missed something or another and couldn’t follow it after the halfway point. This time I was paying more attention and I got all of it except a little… read review