Titel: Ba wang bie ji (Farewell My Concubine) (Blu-ray Disc) - 霸王别姬(BD50 蓝光碟)
Medium: 1 Bluray Disc
ISBN: 978-7-88763-174-9, 9787887631749
Director: 陈凯歌 Chen Kaige
Cast: 张国荣 (Leslie Cheung), 巩俐 Gong Li, 张丰毅 Zhang Fengyi, 英达 Ying Da, 等 ...
Language: chinese (mandarin)
Subtitles: Chinese, English
Year: 2012 (year of production: 1993)
Region code: Code Free (All Region ABC)
Farewell My Concubine (simplified Chinese: 霸王别姬; traditional Chinese: 霸王別姬; pinyin: Bàwáng Bié Jī; literally "The Hegemon-King Bids Farewell to His Concubine"), a 1993 Chinese drama film directed by Chen Kaige, is one of the central works of the Fifth Generation movement that brought Chinese film directors to world attention. Similar to other Fifth Generation films like To Live and The Blue Kite, Farewell My Concubine explores the effect of China's political turmoil during the mid-20th century on the lives of individuals, families, and groups, in this case, two stars in a Peking opera troupe and the woman who comes between them.
The film is an adaptation of the novel by Lilian Lee. Lilian Lee is also one of the film's screenplay writers.
The actor Leslie Cheung was used in the film to attract audiences because melodramas are not a popular genre. Also, due to Gong Li's international stardom, she was used as the other main character in the film.
Farewell My Concubine remains to date the only Chinese-language film to win the Cannes Palme d'Or.
Farewell My Concubine spans 53 years, presenting the lives of two men against the historical backdrop of a country in upheaval. It is about the story of Dieyi and Xiaolou and how their lives are affected by the Japanese invasion of China in the 1930s and the victory of the Communists in 1949. A crowd is watching a troupe of boys from a Beijing opera training school perform in the street, supervised by their aging director, Master Guan. One of the boys, Laizi, tries to run away, and the crowd is insulted. The leader begins pushing around Master Guan. One of the troupe, Shitou, distracts the crowd by breaking a brick on his head. The crowd cheers, but Shitou is later punished for pulling such a stunt.
An onlooking mother takes her son to the troupe house to be trained as an artist, but Master Guan refuses him because of a birth defect, a superfluous finger. The mother uses a sharp knife to cut off the extra finger. She signs the contract with his thumb print in blood and leaves. Shitou welcomes him as "Douzi" [Bean]. The two boys soon become good friends.
A few years pass. Laizi, craving freedom and candied crab apples, and Douzi escape, but they return after seeing a performance by an opera master that makes Laizi weep and ask how they became stars and how much they had to endure to become stars. Inspired, Laizi and Douzi return to the troupe, only to find Master Guan beating Shitou for allowing the escape. In the meantime, Laizi hides to quickly stuff his mouth with the rest of the crab apples. Douzi walks to the beating bench to accept his punishment. Master Guan begins to beat him mercilessly, but Douzi never screams although Shitou begs him to say he is sorry. Shitou charges the master, but the assistant yells for the master to come: Laizi had hanged himself.
Douzi attaches himself to Shitou and is trained to play Dan (female) roles. He practices the monologue "Dreaming of the World Outside the Nunnery." When he is to say, "I am by nature a girl, not a boy," he instead says "I am by nature a boy..." The monologue comes from the kunqu "The Record of an Evil Sea," kuhai (the Evil Sea) being a Buddhist term for a life of sorrow. Shitou learns the jing, a painted-face male lead. For punishment, Shitou forces a stick into Douzi's mouth, causing his mouth to bleed. The agent begins to leave with the future of the troupe at risk. Soon enough, after he has gargled enough of his blood, a soft whisper of, "I am by nature a girl... not a boy" spills out. He had gotten his line right, and everyone cheered with happiness and a sense of relief.
A while later, Douzi and Shitou perform for the Eunuch Zhang, who admired their performance and summon the boys for an audience. Shitou admires a beautiful sword in Zhang's collection, stating that if he were emperor, Douzi would be his queen. Douzi says that one day he hopes to give Shitou a sword like that. The boys are told Douzi is to meet Zhang alone, where he is given the sword.
Douzi walks in on the old man in a lascivious embrace with a young girl. Douzi is afraid as the man eyes him up and down. He wishes to find Shitou because,"I have to pee." The old man brings a glass dragon jar, tells him to pee, stares in lusty amazement at the boy's body, and reaches for him. Douzi tries to flee, but Zhang pushes him to the ground. Hours later he emerges, and Shitou cannot get him to say a word. It is clear that Douzi had been traumatized. On their way home, Douzi spies a baby abandoned in the street. Master Guan urges Douzi to leave the baby, saying "we each have our own fate, or yuanfen," but Douzi takes him in and eventually Master Guan trains him.
Memorabilia from the film exhibited at "The Art of Leslie Cheung's Movie Images", April 2013, Hong Kong Central Library.Douzi and Shitou become stars of Beijing opera and take on the stage names Cheng Dieyi and Duan Xiaolou. The adult Dieyi is in love with Xiaolou, but the sexual aspects of his affection are not returned. When they become a hit in Beijing, a patron, Yuan Shiqing, slowly courts Dieyi. Xiaolou, in the meantime, takes a liking to Juxian, a headstrong courtesan at the upscale House of Blossoms. (Although she is later accused of being a "prostitute" in the Blossom House, she was somewhat more elevated than Dieyi's mother in the first part of the film). Xiaolou intervenes when a mob of drunk men harass Juxian and conjures up a ruse to get the men to leave her alone, saying that they are announcing their engagement. Juxian later buys her freedom and, deceiving him into thinking she was thrown out, pressures Xiaolou to keep his word. When Xiaolou announces his engagement to Juxian, Dieyi and Xiaolou have a falling out. Dieyi calls her "Pan Jinlian", a "dragon lady" from the novel Golden Lotus. Dieyi takes up with Master Yuan, who gives him Zhang's sword. Master Guan shames them into re-forming the troupe.
The complex relationship between these three characters is then tested in the succession of political upheavals that encompass China from the onset of the Second Sino-Japanese War. The film also follows the fates of Na Kun, who turns his theater troupe over to the new government after 1949, and the abandoned baby, who is trained in the female roles. He is called "Xiao Si", or "Little Fourth Brother." They go through Japanese Occupation, Kuomintang administration's of the mainland, the Communist revolution in 1949, the People's Liberation Army's entrance of the city, and the Cultural Revolution's attack of the "feudal" traditional opera. (The portrayal of these events led the film to be initially banned in China.) "Xiao Si" and Douzi have an argument about "Xiao Si" training and punishment at the end of which "Xiao Si" threatens revenge. Xiao Si usurps Dieyi's role as the Concubine, a betrayal not only by Xiao Si but also by Xiaolou who has acceeded to the change without informing Dieyi. Dieyi leaves, separting himself. He becomes addicted to opium. Later, Xiaolou and Juxian help him to recover and the troup surrounds him to congratulate him on returning to health.
On the eve of the Cultural Revolution, Shitou and Juxian are seen burning now contraband literature and clothing. After a few drinks, they rekindle their relationship. The next scene shifts to Shitou being questioned by the Red Guards on a few unpatriotic words he said years ago and overheard by their manager. "Xiao Si" is seen in the background seemingly in a position of power. The Beijing opera troupe is taken out for questioning and offered a chance to repent. Under duress, Shitou confesses that Douzi performed for the Japanese and may have had a relationship with Yuan Shiqing. Douzi, enraged, tells the mob that Juxian was a prostitute. Shitou is forced to admit that he married a prostitute but swears that he doesn't love her and will never see her again for the sake of his life. Juxian is crushed to hear his words and, when given the chance to visit her, he finds her hanged. She has committed suicide from a broken heart. "Xiao Si" is seen in a gym practicing Concubine Yu's role, happy over having usurped Douzi's position. Communist cadre catch him in the act. His fate is unclear.
The film then jumps back to the first scene of their reunion in 1977. Douzi and Shitou are practicing Farewell My Concubine. Their relationship seems to have mended since the tribunal and suicide of Shitou's wife. They exchange a smile and Shitou begins with the line that gave Douzi trouble forty years ago. Douzi makes the same error of finishing the line with "I am not a girl". Shitou corrects him and they continue practicing. Douzi then commits suicide by sword in the same manner as in the play.