Based on a novel by Lilian Lee ‘Farewell My Concubine’
Farewell My Concubine won Cannes Palme d'Or
Set in China in the 1930’s Duan Xiaolou and Cheng Dieyi work at the Beijing Opera Troupe.
In the operastage Dieyi has the female roles and Xiaolou acts a male role. They often perform the opera ‘Farewell to My Concubine’, which is a well known opera in Beijing. Dieyi and Xiaolou have a complicated friendship as Dieyi becomes obsessed with his love for Xiaolou, not only in his role as a concubine at the stage, but also in real life.
But then a beautiful woman, Ju Xian, comes between them. When Xiaolou marries Ju Xian the friendship between Dieji en Xiaolou breaks up. In the Cultural Revolution Xiaolou and Ju Xian are separated and Ju Xian kills herself when she hears that her husband doesn't love her at all. After decades the former friends meet again and they decide to play their roles of the opera 'Farewell my Concubine’ one last time.
“the Chinese epic that has proved so troublesome to the Communist authorities at home, is one of those very rare film spectacles that deliver just about everything the ads are likely to promise: action, history, exotic color, multitudes in confrontation, broad overviews of social and political landscapes, all intimately rooted in a love story of vicious intensity, the kind that plays best when it goes badly, which is most of the time”. New York Times