The paper "Analysis Of The Film Farewell My Concubine" explores the Chinese movie that presents a historical lesson with respect to Chinese culture by showing the manner in which people were affected by the war-ridden Chinese political disturbance and particularly focuses on the gender identity…
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The film starts by illustrating how two men, Xiaolou and Dieyi started their professional careers in “Peking Opera”. The two men used to perform as in masculine and feminine roles. Xiahou's appeared as a man on stage while Dieyi as the woman. The flashback in the film from the stage performance to the Warlords’ era reflects how the two men met and spent the hardships of the time together (Metalluk 2004, IMDb 2011). This melodramatic film portrays the shaping of gender identity under the barriers imposed by the culture and traditions. Many writers and commentators have commented their point of view on the identity performance and development in Farewell My Concubine; however, they failed to comment on the cross-cultural impact and attraction of the film (Cheshire 1992, Tiessier 1993). Moreover, the writers have focused to the anecdotal extent only while explaining the differences related culture, society and sex. Farewell My Concubine has a significant cultural identity attached to it. The story of the film covers the Chinese era from 1927 to 1977, which is a combination of warlords’ domination era, invading of Japanese Empire and the revolution in China in terms of culture. The film promotes and develops a particular cultural identity (Bergeson 1997). Apart from this, the film also presents a special kind of masculine feature which is presented as a male-dominated by extreme feminine characteristics. This identity is presented in the role played by Leslie Cheung as “Dieyi” which is the main character of the film; Concubine. Along with a depressing story of homosexual affection related to identities of masculinity and femininity, the film also presents a tensed situation with respect to the feminine desires as expressed by Dieyi. The film portrays an interesting and complex masculine identity which offers its viewers to observe the differentiating line between masculinity and femininity. Chinese cultural norms do not allow females to take part in Opera and henceforth, Dieyi being a man is forced to play the role of a woman along with Xiaolou. This role cum gender conflict is resolved as Dieyi decides to submit his wills and wishes for what is being demanded of him. After adopting the feminine gender on stage, Dieyi finds that he no more wants his masculinity back and learns to admit that “I am by nature a girl.” Performing along with his counterpart Xiaolou, the friendship relationship between the two turns into a romantic relationship in which Dieyi is seen to be more involved (Bergeson 1997, Metalluk 2004). Concubine’s identity performance is a fascinating seducing role apart from the original character of Dieyi. After Dieyi, the other Concubine which is revealed is in the form of Xiao Si, who is Dieyi’s son. The way in which the film presents femininity through the “mask of femininity”, allows the emotions of the characters to go beyond their respective roles. The “mask of femininity” is in fact presented as incarnating the sexual desire. Beyond the construction of femininity on the social frame of reference, the film’s masking technique displays how femininity is desired more when it is subject to an artificial image.
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