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Farewell My Concubine

Farewell My Concubine is a 1993 Chinese historical drama film directed by Chen Kaige, starring Leslie Cheung, Gong Li, and Zhang Fengyi. An adaptation of the novel by Lilian Lee, the film is set in a politically tumultuous China during the 20th century, from the early days of the Republic of China to the aftermath of the Cultural Revolution. It chronicles the troubled relationships between two Peking opera actors and lifelong friends Cheng Dieyi (Cheung) and Duan Xiaolou (Zhang), and Xiaolou's wife Juxian (Gong). The movie is about confusion of identity and blurred lines between real life and the stage, portrayed by the revered opera actor Dieyi, whose unrequited love for Xiaolou persists through the movie. Scholar Ying notes that in order "[t]o attract the international audience, Chinese history and Peking Opera are drawn close while homosexuality, individual perversities and moral dilemmas are transposed distant". Commentators also noted themes of political and societal disturbances in 20th-century China, which is typical of the Chinese Fifth Generation cinema.

Plot

Douzi, a boy endowed with feminine features, is abandoned by his prostitute mother to an all-boys Peking opera troupe supervised by Master Guan. He befriends Shitou, a student of the troupe.

Awards