The Significance of Classical Film Showing in Film Festival: Take Farewell My Concubine(1993) for Example


The Shanghai International Film Festival(SIFF) organized by Shanghai Municipal Administration of Culture, Radio, Film & TV and Shanghai Media & Entertainment Group. The first SIFF was held from October 7 to 14, 1993. It is one of the biggest film festivals in Asia.


The classic film of Chen Kaige, Farewell My Concubine(1993) was showed on the 16th Shanghai International Film Festival in 2013. It might be one of the most popular films at the 16th SIFF. At that time it was difficult to buy one ticket for this movie.

What makes Farewell My Concubine(1993) so different in SIFF?(Or maybe not only in a film festival?)

Farewell My Concubine is a 1993 Chinese drama film directed by Chen Kaige. The film is an adaptation of the novel by Lilian Lee, stars Leslie Cheung, Zhang Fengyi and Gong Li. It revolves around the grief and joy of two Peking opera actors during half a century, shows the thing and understanding of Chinese traditional culture, human existence and human nature. The movie won the Palme d’Or at the 1993 Cannes Film Festival and went on to win other honours.

Farewell My Concubine takes the art of Chinese opera as a representative. By telling the story of the growing up of Peking Opera artists, the development of the story runs through the modern history of China. Through showing the joys and sorrows of normal people, the film perfectly shows that turbulent era of China. At that time, Chinese films were at the peak of the fifth generation of directors. Almost every director was making art films, documenting the profound times by using their own way. The fate of the characters in Farewell My Concubine also implies the environment and human nature in that situation. At the end of the film, it shows the fight between Chinese new culture and old traditional art. It also expresses the circumstance that the traditional art has to serve the current situation. The protagonist of the film is not the actors, but the traditional culture of China. The film finally suggests that we need to show respect for traditional culture and find ways to protect it.


As one of the most successful films in China, Farewell My Concubine is a collection of literary part and artistic part. It not only retains the director’s creative idea, but also takes into account the aesthetic taste of audiences. The film was included in The New York Times’ list of The Best 1000 Movies Ever Made in 2004 and Time’s list of Best Movies of All Time in 2005. It was ranked No. 97 in Empire magazine’s “The 100 Best Films Of World Cinema” in 2010. and No. 1 in Time Out’s “100 Best Mainland Chinese Films” feature in 2014. The film has an 88% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes, based on 34 reviews.

In my opinion, the showing of Farewell My Concubine at the Film Festival would not only give people who like this film a good experience, but also could give more young people who do not know the film a chance to feel more responsible for protecting Chinese traditional culture and get a deeper understanding of the changes in the current situation of China at that time.

Classic movies are classic because you can always get some new feelings from them.

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