FAREWELL MY CONCUBINE: DVD
Spanning the 20th Century, beginning with the last dynasty, and ending in the final days of the Cultural Revolution, the story follows the lives of two famous Chinese opera singers, Cheng Dieyi (Leslie Chung) and Duan Xiaolou (Fengyi Shang), who form a brotherly bond on and off stage. When the beautiful concubine Juxian (Gong Li) comes into their lives, she also drives a wedge between the men. The story is told against the backdrop of China's changing history.
Review by Andrew L. Urban:
It's 1977 and the Cultural Revolution is over and discredited ... then, ... flashback to 1924... So begins Chen Kaige's 1993 film, Farewell My Concubine, a multi award winning master work from one of China's Fifth generation filmmakers about the friendship of two men from childhood to middle age - and the woman - Gong Li in one of her landmark roles - who finally comes between them.
It's an emotional epic, subtle and nuanced, yet robust. You'll be amazed, amused, surprised and shocked. But you'll be engaged for the entire length of this extraordinary film. Written and structured with flair, Farewell My Concubine is nevertheless very accessible - a bit like an exposed nerve. Performances and direction are gripping and the gradual reveal of the story and the society in which it takes place is fascinating cinema.
Powerful images fill every frame thanks to Changwai Gu's cinematography, with some stunning jump cuts. For Westerners, the insights into Chinese culture, across contrasting eras, is invigorating and sometimes confronting. A film that engages both our intellect and our emotions, Farewell My Concubine lays bare aspects of humanity that are universal. Painfully, achingly so. I think its' superb and I hope you find it as satisfying as I do.
And as a sad footnote, a tribute to the memory of Leslie Cheung who plays Cheng Dieyi, the homosexual Peking Opera singer. Cheung, openly gay, was 46 when he committed suicide in April 2003, jumping from the gym on the 24th floor of Hong Kong's Mandarin Oriental Hotel. A suicide note referred to emotional problems. Farewell Leslie Cheung.
Published September 21, 2006
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FAREWELL MY CONCUBINE: DVD (M)
Ba wang bie ji
CAST: Gong Li, Leslie Cheung, Fengy Shang, Qu Lu, Da Ying, You Ge, Chun Li, Han Lei, Di Tong
PRODUCER: Hsu Feng
DIRECTOR: Chen Kaige
SCRIPT: Wei Lu, Bik-Wai Le, Lillian Lee (novel by Lee)
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Gu Changwei
EDITOR: Pei Xiaonan
MUSIC: Zhao Liping
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Yang Yuhe, Yang Zhanjia
RUNNING TIME: 152 minutes
PRESENTATION: 4 x 3
SPECIAL FEATURES: None
DVD DISTRIBUTOR: Reel DVD
DVD RELEASE: September 21, 2006