The best Chinese movie there's ever been, and there will eve
Michelle | 05/07/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"In recent years Kaige Chen has made some very disappointing movies that look extravagent but really have no substance. But if you have seen Farewell, My Concubine, you'll agree that having made this film Kaige Chen can spend the rest of his life making crap and still call himself a good filmmaker.
This movie is, more than anything, a work of art. And it is extraordinary on a number of different levels.
First of all, it covers the Chinese history from 1920s to 1970s, a period in Chinese history whose volitility is unparalled by any other historical periods. The history is played out intimately in the lives of the two main characters. And the film plays out half a century of history without the least feeling of rush. There is an extraordinary attention to detail. In each time period presented, the historical context is applied to the most minute details: the way people dress, the way they talk... is all catered towards creating the most authentic historical experience.
Secondly, the film has presented such an amazing portrayal of Peking Opera. Including the piece "Farewell, My Concubine" itself, every piece of Peking Opera depicted in this film are carefully chosen. They fit in perfectly with the story and help to bring the depth to a whole new level.
Thirdly and most importantly, Leslie Cheung has displayed a quality beyond the word "beauty". Many superficial film critiques claim that this is a movie about homosexuality. But that is not true. It is a movie about beauty and about art. In the character played by Leslie Cheung, gender simply becomes irrelevant. He is the embodiment of a state of mind, that is at once feminin and masculin. From him you see the purest of humanity: beauty, love, loyalty, and a complete devotion to art...
What most people don't know is that when the story was initially written by a famous Hong Kong novelist, the writer herself in fact wrote the story with Leslie Cheung in mind. In a way, the character Cheng Dieyi was made for Leslie Cheung. Or should we say, Leslie Cheung was made for Cheng Dieyi.
Nowadays, in Chinese theatre and in world theatre, movies are becoming increasing commercial. More and more of them are made to please the audience and to hit the box office. And it is harder and harder to find films that are made for the sake of art.
In that sense, Farewell my Concubine is the legacy of a time when filmmakers were still artists."
ChenP | California | 12/08/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Indisputably one of the best films of the 90's, and, in my opinion, to date. Just reading a few of the reviews, each with its own interpretation of the themes and motifs, is enough for anyone to figure out that this film reaches out to every individual in a different way.
Leslie Cheung (RIP) forever set the standard for genderless beauty. Cheng Dieyi himself is an artwork, and is beautiful and captivating in the same way as a masterpiece. I find it interesting that some people see Dieyi and Xialou as the main characters, when others (esp Chinese) think it's Dieyi and Juxian. I personally think it's Dieyi and Juxian, and that Xiaolou is there less as a character in his own right (since he really doesn't have much of a personality, imho), but rather as a symbol of something that Dieyi and Juxian revolve around and can be easily replaced with another average man.
To fully appreciate the magic of this film, you really need to be willing to sit down with an open mind and be ready to pick up on small details, and then think about it as a bigger picture. It's not surprising that some people are turned off by the themes of homosexuality, abuse, and joyless sex. These themes are exactly what make this film so haunting. It's completely pointless to get offended by these themes, because Farewell My Concubine is not there as a reflection of anyone's political stance or moral values, and even less is it propaganda. Rather, it's an honest portrayal of the effects of having to live a life of betrayal and inner turmoil."
BEAUTIFUL, AND RICHLY LAYERED
Geary A., Jones | 02/03/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Kaige Chen's masterpiece is extraordinarily gorgeous, the actors ( most particularly Leslie Cheung as the effeminate actor, Douzi ) are excellent. The story is about friendship, love, betrayal, repression, and a rather interesting love triangle. It follows the lives of two friends, and actors growing up in the Peking Opera. They become famous as the lead characters in a classic Chinese play called FAREWELL MY CONCUBINE. Little do they know in the beginning, how much their lives will imitate their art. The turbulence, and brutality of the Japanese Occupation, followed by the communist takeover, and then the repressive Cultural Revolution cause many changes in the lives of the three main characters ( portrayed by Cheung, Zhang Fengyi, and the ever wonderful, Li Gong ), mostly for the worst. This is an extremely powerful, and poignant cinematic gem, but it's not for everyone. It is a bit long , and it does deal with homosexuality.