Today I want to start a new mini-series about movies.We already introduced some books to you to prepare for China, but we know that there are lots of people who would rather watch a movie and there are some great Chinese movies out there, which can definitely teach you a lot about Chinese culture, history, humor and so on.
Farewell my Concubine (Chin.: 霸王别姬)
This is one of my most favorite movies and a must-see when you want to come to China! Director Chen Kaige (陈凯歌) did a really great job on this one (which you couldn’t say about his more recent movies).
The movie follows the life of Dieyi (Douzi) and Xiaolou (Shitou), who are both put into a Beijing opera school when they are still young. Douzi is supposed to train to play female roles (Dan), while Shitou practices male roles. The movie covers around 50 years of Chinese history starting in 1924 and displaying the cruel methods of the Peking opera education as well as changes in Chinese history. Both protagonists become famous Beijing opera stars. In the end Shitou falls in love with a woman, which is unbearable for Douzi…
Why watch this movie:
In my opinion, this is Chen Kaige’s masterpiece. Many historical and political changes are happening throughout the film. Topics like the Japanese Occupation, the Guomindang Administration, Communist Revolution and also the Communist Rule appear. Chen even displays the fights of the People’s Liberation Army and the Cultural Revolution’s attack on old, feudal traditions like Beijing opera. At first, the portrayal of these events led to the banning of this movie in China.
You can learn a lot about Chinese history and life in 20th century China – especially about the transition from a dynastic country to a Commmunist country.
Also, this is the first Chinese movie which won the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival.
You can buy this movie here.