Farewell My Concubine (film)

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Date: 1993

Region: Asia

Subject: Political/Economic/Social Opinion, Sexual/Gender Orientation

Medium: Film Video


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Artist: Chen Kaige

Confronting Bodies: The Chinese government

Dates of Action: 1993

Location: China

Description of Artwork: Farewell My Concubine tells the story of two men, Dieyi and Xiaolou, who are members of the Beijing Opera Troupe. Dieyi is the son of a prostitute and is assigned to play female roles. In the opera Farewell My Concubine he plays the concubine of a king, who is played by Xiaolou. Dieyi falls in love with Xiaolou, who is engaged to an actual concubine named Junxian. Dieyi then becomes an opium addict. Later Dieyi, Xiaolou, and Junxian are all interrogated by the Red Guard and are forced into betrayal. At the end, after the Cultural Revolution, they do the opera Farewell My Concubine once more, at the end of which Dieyi kills himself.

The Incident: The film was banned when it came out due to its critique of the Cultural Revolution and the Communist Party.

Results of Incident: It was shown only once in China in its original version in Shanghai where an audience of 4000 crammed in to a 2000 seat theater to watch the movie. After it won the Palme d'Or award at the Cannes Film Festival it was released in China with the Cultural Revolution scene removed.

Source: Censorship: A World Encyclopedia