Farewell My Concubine
霸王別姬Directed by Chen Kaige
Cast: Gong Li, Leslie Cheung, Zhang Fengyi
Palme d’Or, 1993 Cannes Film Festival
New 4K restoration
A dizzying epic of splendor and brutality, FAREWELL MY CONCUBINE follows Douzi and Shitou in their 50-year journey through the art of Peking opera and the Cultural Revolution. From childhood, the two friends undergo harsh training in the Opera Academy. After years of being molded into stardom, the two become known by their stage names and roles. Douzi (legendary Leslie Cheung) goes by the name Dieyi and plays female roles, while Shitou becomes Xiaolou and plays masculine kings.
Their on- and off-stage identities blur even more when Dieyi falls in love with Xiaolou, who marries a courtesan played by Gong Li, unraveling a new thread of melodrama in a world already surrounded by volatile cultural events. Through veils of opium smoke, dazzling color, and discordant revolutions, each scene lingers with yearning – desire to be loved, to be admired, to perform with regality and honor despite the wrenching loss and disorientation that waits for the two in the shadows.
For its 30th anniversary, FAREWELL MY CONCUBINE has been restored and is presented theatrically in its uncut version for the first time in the United States. Interweaving significant Chinese history and romantic melodrama, director Chen Kaige’s exquisite epic is an unrequited love story where history dances with the Peking Opera’s visual opulence, and where cruelty and gentleness swirl inside queer yearning.
– Alissa Tu
Co-Presented by The Hong Konger Club and the San Diego Queer APIMEDA Coalition.