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2 pages/≈550 words
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MLA
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Visual & Performing Arts
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AS 335: Farewell My Concubine Is Directed By Chen Kaige (Essay Sample)

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AS 335 Essay One
The film Farewell My Concubine is directed by Chen Kaige, starring Leslie Cheung, Zhang Fengyi, and Li Gong. The film follows the life of two Chinese opera performers Duan Xialou (Shitou) and Cheng Dieyi (Douzi), and their experiences before and after the Cultural Revolution. When Xiaolou engages Juxian this causes a rift with Dieyi, who performs female ‘dayi’ roles in operas, and Juxian commits suicide when Xialou confesses to the red army under duress that he did not love her and she was a prostitute. The impact of the Cultural Revolution on the lives of the ordinary citizens is represented by the lives of the two opera performers who had to conform. The theme of relations male-female relations is explored as represented by the gendered gaze.
Juxian jumps into Xialou arms in one of the scenes that evoke the butterfly flight, where both Dieyi and Xiaolou compete for her attention (Kaige et al). The concept of gaze is important in the film as it captures perceptions on the hierarchical relations between the male and female members of the society. This is also an aspect of males being active as they gaze towards the passive female, and the camera gaze focuses more on the female’s body, Juxian is also marginalized as her husband even betrays her by making false confessions. Representation of looking and being looked at focuses on the male gaze and female sexuality. The notion that there is a male bearer and a passive female in cinematic representation has mostly been associated with the male gaze in Western films.
The gendered gaze in the film has various levels, including the heterosexual- homosexual angle (Zhang 102). In the Juxian jump scene, both Xialou and Dieyi look at her, and the gender narrative in the film explores the closeness of the men and the place of women in marriage and society. It seems odd that two men would fight for the attention of one woman to be closer to themselves and not her. Even as they seek Juxian’s attention Xialou dominates the scene because both Juxian and Dieyi wanted to get closer to him. Both women and gay men are passive partners in relations and as a professional entertainer Dieyi is cast as being passive and given female roles. Dieyi confused reality from fiction as he experienced forced feminization as a form of punishment when he was younger.
The camera gazes at the elaborate costumes of Xialou, Dieyi, and Juxian where Dieyi looks more like a butterfly. While Juxian represents male desire, as Xialou wants her, but she also reflects male frustration as the two male opera performers would only babe together when she was not present. The entangle...
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