Farewell My Concubine (1993)


“A smile ushers in the spring. A tear does darken all the world.” – Master Yuan

Number of Times Seen – 1 (8 Oct 2018)

Brief Synopsis – Chronicles the friendship of two aspiring Operatic stage actors in China from their early childhood and spanning over half a century

My Take on it – As many of you probably already know, I’m not the biggest fan of foreign language films and have avoided watching this film for decades for that very reason.

I had no idea what this film was about before watching it and only knew that it had won the Palme d’Or at Cannes.

This film was quite long and very convoluted and is much too allegorical and existential for my own personal taste.

The story itself drags along way too slowly and as much as I was trying to pay attention to everything that was transpiring, it wasn’t simple and might have to do with my lack of knowledge of Chinese cinema styles and also early 20th Century Chinese history that made me even more confused about everything going on.

The film is amazing to look at from a production perspective and they are actually able to transport the viewer back in time nearly 100 years.

The strong bond between the characters is portrayed quite effectively and we are able to see how such a bond is built over the course of the lives of these artists trying to continue to ply their craft even as the world around them is constantly changing.

Bottom Line – Long and convoluted film that is too allegorical for my personal taste.  The story drags along too much and is perhaps much more interesting for viewer who are more familiar with the history of early 20th century China. The production of this film is done really well and it actually feels as if they are able to transport the viewer back in time almost a century.  They do a fine job showing the effects of a strong friendship because we get to see how the bond between these two men strengthens over the course of their lives.

MovieRob’s Favorite Trivia – Miramax Filmsmogul “Harvey Weinstein” purchased the distribution rights and removed ten minutes. This is the version seen in U.S. theaters (and also in the U.K.) According to Peter Biskind’s book, “Down and Dirty Pictures: Miramax, Sundance and the Rise of Independent Film”, Louis Malle, who was president of the Cannes jury that year, said: “The film was admired so much in Cannes is not the film seen in this country (referring to the U.S.), which is twenty minutes shorter – but seems longer because it doesn’t make any sense. It was better before those guys made cuts.” The uncut version of the film was released on DVD by Miramax and Disney, and is the original 171-minute version.  (From IMDB)

Rating – BAFTA Worthy (6/10)

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One thought on “Farewell My Concubine (1993)

  1. Pingback: Temporal Top Ten – 1993 |

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