Farewell, My Concubine (1993)

KAIGE CHEN

Bil’s rating (out of 5):  BBB.5

Original title:  Ba Wang Bie Ji

China/Hong Kong, 1993.   Beijing Film Studio, China Film Co-Production Corporation, Maverick Picture Company, Tomson Films.   Screenplay by , , based on the novel by Pik Wah Lee.   Cinematography by .   Produced by .   Music by .   Production Design by , .   Costume Design by .   Film Editing by .   

If this excellent Chinese drama ended sooner it would have been a much better film, but even at its excessive running time it is an eye-popping spectacle. Leslie Cheung is excellent as an opera singer who was sold to the Peking Opera as a child and grows up to be a famous performer in his country. The story plays out like a love triangle between him, the man he loves, and the man’s wife (Gong Li), while the background attempts to squeeze a whole dollop of Chinese history into one film. It doesn’t always succeed, especially in its last third, but it’s great to look at and often quite inspiring.

Academy Award Nominations:  Best Cinematography; Best Foreign Language Film

Cannes Film Festival Award:  Palme D’Or (tie)

Golden Globe Award:  Best Foreign Language Film

Toronto International Film Festival:  1993

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