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Farewell My Concubine (1993)

Ba wang bie ji (original title)
The story of two men, who met as apprentices in the Peking Opera, and stayed friends for over 50 years.

Director:

Kaige Chen

Writers:

Pik Wah Lee (novel) (as Lillian Lee), Pik Wah Lee (screenplay) (as Lillian Lee) | 1 more credit »
Reviews
Nominated for 2 Oscars. Another 24 wins & 7 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Leslie Cheung ... Cheng Dieyi (segment "Douzi")
Fengyi Zhang ... Duan Xiaolou (segment "Shitou")
Li Gong ... Juxian
Qi Lü Qi Lü ... Master Guan
Da Ying Da Ying ... Manager
You Ge ... Master Yuan
Han Lei Han Lei ... Xiao Si (adult)
Di Tong Di Tong ... Zhang the Eunuch
Zhi Yin ... Douzi as a Teenager
Mingwei Ma Mingwei Ma ... Douzi as a Child
Hailong Zhao Hailong Zhao ... Shitou as a Teenager
Yang Fei Yang Fei ... Shitou as a Child
Dan Li ... Laizi / Peking Opera schoolboy
Yongchao Yang Yongchao Yang ... Laizi as a Child
Fei Huang Fei Huang ... Old Master
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Storyline

"Farewell, My Concubine" is a movie with two parallel, intertwined stories. It is the story of two performers in the Beijing Opera, stage brothers, and the woman who comes between them. At the same time, it attempts to do no less than squeeze the entire political history of China in the twentieth century into a three-hour time-frame. Written by Michael Kim <leda@imsa.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

The passionate story of two lifelong friends and the woman who comes between them.

Genres:

Drama | Music | Romance

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for language and strong depiction of thematic material | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Official Sites:

Official site

Country:

China | Hong Kong

Language:

Mandarin

Release Date:

15 October 1993 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Farewell My Concubine See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$4,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$69,408, 17 October 1993

Gross USA:

$5,216,888

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$5,216,888
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (USA) (theatrical)

Sound Mix:

Dolby

Color:

Black and White (flashback sequence)| Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Ranked number 12 non-English-speaking film in the critics' poll conducted by the BBC in 2018. See more »

Goofs

When Douzi is first examined by the owner of the opera troupe, his extra finger is on his right hand below the thumb. When he withdraws the hand from the opera troupe owner, he pulls back his left arm. When his mother cuts the extra finger off a few moments later, it is now on his left hand, next to his pinkie. See more »

Quotes

Master Yuan: A smile ushers in the spring.
Master Yuan: A tear does darken all the world.
Master Yuan: How truly does this befit you. To you... only you are possessed of such charm.
See more »

Alternate Versions

The following footage was deleted from the USA version:
  • After Laizi's death, Douzi and Shitou mourn next to the coffin. We see the coffin being carted away. (1:24)
  • We see Douzi being carried atop the servant's back to Old Man Zhang's quarters (0:09)
  • During the "deflowering scene" with Old Man Zhang, after the woman leaves, until Zhang says "Come here." Douzi urinates into a vase, as the old man looks on, getting quite excited. (0:21)
  • After Cheng and Duan are accosted by rioting students, after the photo session. They are being carted through the streets on handcarts. Na Kun is following, on foot. They discuss first the student revolutionaries, and then the incident at Old Man Zhang's house, which is now a coffin shop. Dieyi mentions that he was there the day before; Na conjectures that he was probably looking for the sword. (0:51)
  • After Cheng and Duan meet Yuan Shiqing for the first time, and Cheng is presented with jewelry. Brief dialogue as Yuan and then Duan leave the room. (0:19)
  • After Cheng and Duan argue in the makeup room, right before Juxian leaves the House of Blossoms. Juxian watches a performance of "Farewell". (0:55)
  • After Cheng and Duan argue during the "engagement" scene, right before Cheng tucks the baby Xiao Si into bed. Yuan presents Cheng with an elaborate pheasant headdress in his dressing room. (0:51)
  • After Japan's march into Beijing, right before Duan gets into a fight with the Japanese. Another opera scene, dealing with drink. Also one line of dialogue as Juxian applies Duan's makeup. (1:31)
  • Scene of Cheng singing to Japanese continues, right before Duan is released. Interior shots, Cheng holding a fan. Music, and applause. (0:47)
  • More graphic detail in the bloodletting scene.
  • Brief shot of Duan caressing Juxian's cheek, right after Cheng and Yuan makeup scene.
  • After our first glance of Cheng smoking opium, right before Cheng and Duan visit their old teacher. Cheng steps out of his home, smoking and looking quite listless. He chokes as a car passes. Then we see Juxian showing a group of Duan's friends to the exit of their home, recovering money that her husband has lent them. Juxian complains that Duan doesn't have a real job; Duan responds that all he can do is sing, and Juxian has forbidden that. Juxian mentions that Duan and Cheng's old teacher wants to see them; Duan says that he is too ashamed to face him. (2:02)
  • After Juxian visits Cheng in his cell, just before trial. Beginning of the trial dialogue cut, where Peking Opera is described as "pornographic music", and the formal charges of collusion with the Japanese Officer, Aoki, are described. (0:43)
  • Later, in the same trial scene, after Na's "testimony", Yuan objects to the idea of Peking Opera as "pornographic music". (1:01)
  • After the communists march into Beijing, Cheng and Duan are performing "Farewell" to an audience of communist troops. The troops do not respond, and then break into a patriotic song afterwards. Xiao Si seems to take to their philosophy. This scene cuts into what seems to be one large crowd scene in the U.S. release -- everything depicting Xiao Si (the foundling) skipping through the streets of Beijing comes after this scene. (1:52)
  • After Juxian's suicide, and before we cut to the present day, we get a short scene where the traitorous Xiao Si seems to get his due. He is sitting alone with the case of jewelry given Cheng by Yuan, and singing from "Farewell". Behind him, communist troops begin to file in, and Xiao Si is startled to see them in the mirror. One of them approaches and hands him what seems to be some sort of summons. (1:11)
See more »

Connections

Featured in The Oscars (2017) See more »

Soundtracks

Farewell My Concubine Suite (Part II)
Composed by Jiping Zhao
© 1993 Varese Sarabande
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

A modern masterpiece; include this in your top 100 movies
8 December 2004 | by ianjordanjpSee all my reviews

This film is set in China from the 1920's through the so-called Cultural Revolution to the modern day.

It is a love story. A young man, a street kid, who befriends another child "surrendered" into a tough training regime. They both become renowned performers: one, a male dancer/acrobat, the other a man who performs female roles. Then the third element, the beautiful woman, enters.

This is the story of China itself. Its first steps as an independent nation, its dealings with foreign influences. We understand the horror of the Japanese occupation, the Nationalist betrayal, the coming to power of the CCP and the repressive nature of the Cultural Revolution.

It is a story of human triumph. I dare you not to be moved.

You will be enriched by this film and all the poorer if you neglect it.

9/10


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