Director: Kaige Chen
Writer: Pik Wah Lee
Stars: Leslie Cheung, Fengyi Zhang, Li Gong
Runtime: 171 min
Plot: The story of two friends who initially met in the Perking Opera as apprentices, and remained acquaintances for more than 50 years.
Review: The movie is adapted from Lilian Lee's novel, which gives an account of friends going through the brutalities of the feudal age through the invasion of the Japanese and the disruption caused by Mao's Cultural Revolution.
The film opens with the sequence of two juvenile orphans who are introduced into the Perking Opera, a ruthless, perfectionist training academy. Nearly every one of the boys in the Perking Opera is unwanted or abandoned due to their parents' poor financial condition. The hardships faced in the academy, both mentally and physically are hardly tolerable, but in return, after years of training what are produced are classical performers who are delicately trained for their parts. Young Douzi is assigned to the transvestite role of the concubine and Shitou plays the king. All through their lives they are locked onto their respective on-stage roles.
The director takes the viewers through the early history of China with great sensitivity, providing a refined touch with both the camera and the actors. The movie is incredibly ambitious, using only the entire modern history of China as its background. The Perking Opera is shot in prolific detail; rich-coloured costumes are displayed all over the Opera.
“Farewell my Concubine” demonstrates the times and lives of the people in China during the Cultural Revolution. Coupled with the brilliant story and incredible performances by the child actors, the movie lingers in the mind long after the credits have ended, making this movie a huge success.