Farewell My Concubine (Ba wang bie ji)

1993

Farewell My Concubine (Ba wang bie ji)

Critics Consensus

Chen Kaing's epic is grand in scope and presentation, and, bolstered by solid performances, the result is a film both horrifying and enthralling.

86%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 36

92%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 16,067
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Movie Info

The story begins in the 1920s, and continues through to the aftermath of the Cultural Revolution. The early part of the film focuses on the training and adolescent relationships of two young men who are destined to perform in the famed Peking Opera. Due to the arduous and complex nature of their training, the story begins when one of them (nicknamed Douzi) (played as an adult by Hong Kong singer Leslie Cheung) is deposited at the school by his mother when he is quite a young boy. He becomes friends with a lad called Shitou (Zhang Fengyi as an adult), and their friendship goes through a variety of ups and downs occasioned by the fact that Douzi is homosexual, and Shitou is married. They do not ever appear to have had a sexual romance, but Douzi certainly resents his reduced access to his friend after he marries. Ironically, given the cooperative nature of this film's production, it was banned in Taiwan because too many of its stars were mainland Chinese.

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Critic Reviews for Farewell My Concubine (Ba wang bie ji)

All Critics (36) | Top Critics (11)

Audience Reviews for Farewell My Concubine (Ba wang bie ji)

  • Jan 15, 2013
    The story of China joining the modern age seen through the lives of two principal performers of the Beijing Opera. Cruel, majestic, courageous, sweeping, and glorious, this is not to be missed. Of course, the singing can only be an acquired taste, but this is still about the story, magnificently told.
    Kevin M. W Super Reviewer
  • Jul 14, 2012
    This sprawling epic depicts the friendship of two Chinese opera stars amidst the tumultuous Twentieth Century history of China. What a grand film with beautiful art direction and cinematography to match. But the real highlights are the the two stars, Leslie Cheung and Fengyi Zhang who give tour de force performances. Their interaction is real and fraught with all the history the film depicts, which is no small matter; approximately fifty years of history are crammed into the film's three hours. Many of the scenes are built on subtlety and subtext with hinting looks and knowing glances, and lesser actors would not have been able to convey the nuances of the characters. I have to trust in the film's verisimilitude when it comes to the opera scenes, which are occasionally too long and not as compelling as the off-stage troubles the actors create and are victim to. These sequences are educational, exposing Western viewers to Chinese opera, an area of performance most of us aren't accustomed to seeing. Overall, Farewell, My Concubine is a remarkable achievement and a world-widening experience.
    Jim H Super Reviewer
  • Nov 25, 2011
    An epic of gigantic ambition thanks to the crazy mental scope of Kaige Chen. <i>Ba wang bie ji</i> is technical perfection unbelievably orchestrated by a direction that engulfed every single big and small detail into a universal fable of anti-political nature. And to the Academy: Seriously, your final decisions are hilarious... 97/100
    Edgar C Super Reviewer
  • Jul 10, 2011
    Putting the <i>mellow</i> in melodrama, especially if you're not a fan of Beijing Opera to begin with...
    Ed K Super Reviewer

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