“This is entertaining filmmaking on a grand scale.”
“Appropriately operatic, Chen’s visually spectacular epic is sumptuous in every respect. Intelligent, enthralling, rhapsodic.”
“One of those very rare film spectacles that deliver just about everything the ads are likely to promise. You can sink into it with pleasure and count it a cultural achievement. CRITIC’S PICK!”
—The New York Times
In celebration of its 30th anniversary, the recently restored 4K version of Chen Kaige’s masterwork returns to theaters, where US audiences can see the complete, uncut film in its full glory — for the first time ever.
Cheng Dieyi (the iconic Leslie Cheung) and Duan Xiaolou (Zhang Fengyi) grow up enduring the harsh training of the Peking Opera Academy, where instructors regularly beat the students to instill in them the discipline needed to master the complex physical and vocal techniques of this ancient art. As the two boys mature, they develop complementary talents: Dieyi, with his fine, delicate features, assumes the female roles while Xiaolou plays masculine warlords. Their dramatic identities become real for Dieyi when he falls in love with Xiaolou, who fails to fully reciprocate his affections and marries a courtesan, Juxian (an inimitable Gong Li), creating a dangerous, jealousy-filled romantic triangle.
Spanning 50 years from the early 20th century to the tumultuous Cultural Revolution, Chen Kaige’s passionate, exquisitely shot film captures the vast historical scope of a changing country while revealing the intimate and touching details of a unique, tender, heartrending love story. Based on the bestselling novel by Lillian Lee, it was selected as one of the “100 Best Films in Global History” by TIME Magazine, awarded the Golden Globe for Best Foreign Language Film, and remains the only Chinese-language film to ever win the Palme d’Or.