Monday, March 16, 2015

Farewell My Concubine (Ba wang bie ji) (1993)

Director: Kaige Chen. Cast: Leslie Cheung, Fengyi Zhang, Li Gong. 171 min. Rated R. China/Hong Kong. Drama/Historical.

The story of two 20th century Chinese opera actors/singers, both male, one playing the King and one his female concubine (that's correct), and how their identity is gutted through World War II, the Communist takeover, and the Chinese cultural revolution. Ring any bells? Not to sound too unsophisticated, but I had a hard time watching this 3-hour long epic and not be reminded every 10 minutes of Bertolucci's masterpiece, The Last Emperor. But even if you have seen that film, you can never remind enough how ideological fanaticism forces people to become their own anti-thesis.

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