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Film Screenings

Farewell to My Concubine

Farewell to My Concubine

Dir: Chen Kaige
Scrs: Lillian Lee, Lu Wei
Prod Co: Tomson
Cast: Leslie Cheung, Gong Li, Zhang Fengyi, Ge You, Lu Qi
1993 | Colour | DCP | Mandarin | Chi & Eng subtitles | 171min

 

The story of Farewell to My Concubine is itself very dramatic. Lillian Lee is rumoured to have written the original screenplay in the late 1970s, which was made into a two-part television series on RTHK by Alex Law under the name King Chau and Lady Yu. Lee then adapted the story into a novel in 1985, which later inspired a feature film, scripted again by Lee and directed by Fifth Generation mainstay Chen Kaige, going on to become an international sensation that won the Palme d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival and Best Foreign Film at the Golden Globe Awards among other accolades. What's more, the Peking opera of the same title featured prominently in the novel, the TV programme and the film was itself adapted from a Kun opera, which was in turn based on the historical chronicle Basic Annals of Xiang Yu, from Records of the Grand Historian.

A major reason this story has been staged in so many different media is its richness of potentials. The legend of Xiang Yu, King of West Chu, and the woman he loved (the titled Concubine) is loaded with dramatic and metaphoric promises. While Law takes advantage of opera's practice of cross-gender casting to explore the same-sex affections between actors, provoking thoughts about the possibility of life imitating art, Chen expands the tragic tale into a heart-wrenching epic where art and politics, private passion and public order, personal memory and national trauma, are all tangled up.

Courtesy of Tomson (Hong Kong) Films Co., Ltd.

Date Time Location
5/8/2018 (Sun) 5:00pm Cinema, Hong Kong Film Archive

 

 

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