Books and Movies Reviews

Farewell My Concubine

There are many themes that permeate Chen Kaige's film, Farewell My Concubine.Fore the purposes of this paper they will be presented in three parts: historical perspective, sexual identity and relationships, and social commentary/criticism. Although some critics of the film make the argument that the film is not about a historical perspective, but rather on sexual identity and human relationships, it is not possible to altogether excuse the historical elements of the film, because there are few and the ones shown are extremely critical to the other themes the movie presents.So then one must question not whether these historical scenes are important in analyzing the film, but why was each historical event selected to be used, and how does it add to the other themes of sexual identity, relationship interaction, and social commentary and criticism?While the film's main plot follows the relationship between two Beijing Opera stars, Duan Xiaolou and Cheng Dieyi, from their childhood to old age, there are also many subplots, such as the fragmentation of their relationship as a result of Duan's marriage to Juxian and the historical events that challenged their loyalty to each other in the face of physical and emotional torture.It is the combination of all of these plots in the context of the three thematic approaches presented in this paper that the full effect of Chen Kaige's film may be realized.
Historically, Farewell My Concubine covers the time period from the late Qing dynasty to the post-Mao era, mainly focusing on two key events in Chinese history, the Japanese invasion and the Cultural Revolution.The Japanese invaded China and entered the capital of Beijing in 1937.This invasion launched the pacific front of the Second World War whose fighting didn't end until 1945 with the American's atomic bombing of Japan.The atrocities committed by the Japanese are shown in the scenes following Duan …


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