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“Farewell My Concubine” (1993) 
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Post “Farewell My Concubine” (1993)
“Farewell My Concubine” (1993) *

Epic Chinese opera… Forged by angry hammers into a thing of beauty. After a brief intro from the 1970’s in which our two main characters have retaken the stage following a long absence, our story opens in the 1920’s, and follows the two as young boys within a large group of boys. Through circumstances of fate, they find themselves in a prison-like school to be trained for historical opera.
Becoming an opera star represents achievement at the highest level of this society, and the “training” involves deprivation, brutality and rape. Imperfection results in floggings. Schooling, the passing of time, the changing of dynasties, and the WWII occupying forces of the Japanese all forge the spirits of our two students. For one, the opera is the end, the beauty and pinnacle of his existence. He lives to perform for any audience. For the other, the opera is the means to a better life; a life where he finds love and beauty outside of his role on stage. It is this love, a woman, who will destroy the young men’s lifelong relationship. This is a worthy, if challenging film. The aging of the characters, costume/makeup changes and introduction of less-significant, peripheral characters creates a complex environment for casual movie watching.

Awf Hand gives 3 out of 4 stars, and notes that Chinese historical opera may seem less musical (i.e. screechy) by Western standards.

*Time Magazine top 100 films of all time.


Thu Oct 14, 2010 1:39 pm
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