- “Farewell my Concubine”
Overview of the Film
The film, “Farewell my Concubine,” directed by Chen Kaige is a Chinese film belonging to the drama genre. The drama explores the impacts of China’s political mayhem during the middle of the twentieth century on the lives of the families, individuals and groups. In the film that spans over 53 years, the story of the lives two men, Xiaolou and Dieyi, has been used to depict the idea of the rapidly changing family systems and cultural orientations of the people of China during the period of invasion in China by the Japanese government. The essay will capture the major theme of change in the families in China, the nature of conflicts involved, the culture and the underlying virtues involved and the possible ways in which the aspects named have impact on the society.
Nature of Conflicts and Crisis in the Film
The setup of the film itself begins on a chaotic environment. The timing of the film coincides with a period of Japanese invasion into the land of China. A political conflict is observed from the onset of the movie. The political conflict and crisis that results from the struggles between the two governments serve to shape the orientation of the cultural and family aspect of the characters in the society then. The political conflict definitely caused a humanitarian crisis that gives rise to the peculiar behavior that is witnessed among the members of the families in the film. Conflict within the family is also seen when master Guan refuses to accept a boy who was born with a superfluous finger an act that prompts the mother to cut the extra finger using a cleaver. Their conflict of interest does not only creates a crisis of discrimination but also instills pain in the victims of such treatment.
There is also conflicts of interests based on virtues in the film. Douzi while walking with his master spies a baby in the street and he develops interests to take it. The master, however, urges him not to do so saying that everyone has his or her own fate. The sayings of the master conflicts with the interests of Douzi in that as he tries to love, the master urges him not to do so and give no significant reasons to support his argument.
The resolutions of the conflicts in the film are far much complicated. Well, the personal conflicts are resolvable while the ones touching on the margins of survival of an individual are so rigid in nature. The political conflict is resolvable and the choice to resolve it lies in the hands of the leaders.
Relationship within the family set-up
The family as depicted in the film is bound to be a happy social unit where everyone looks after the other. The mother of a young boy has the interest of his boy in her heart. She wants her boy to join the troupe, but the Guan cannot allow for such requests because of an abnormality. The mother shows utmost love to the son when she cuts the finger manually using a cleaver. The family members strive to do anything that it takes to satisfy the interests of the family members.
The couple of Juxian and Duan Xiaolou are also seen to be striving to do anything that can earn them a living. The wife has no shame of indulging in prostitution to earn a living. The husband, on the other hand, sells the opera talent to earn money. The activities that are exhibited by the couple shows their stamina to survive in the midst of a great upheaval. The determination to succeed in life seem to be the first priority, and it does not matter what one does to survive.
The contemporary society in the film is portrayed as one the held certain moral virtues at heart. In the film, Juxian is accused by a group of men to be a prostitute. Juxian is seen to prostitute herself so as to survive the social turmoil. The fact that the society condemned the behavior is a depiction of their hatred towards moral degradation in the society even at a time of upheaval.
The message from the film
The conclusion of the movie leaves the viewer in a social dilemma of whether to live in disgrace or to die a heroic death. As it has been discussed, the family that rapidly changes to realign towards adaptation to the harsh social environment has been characterized by violation of virtues for survival. The film passes a negative message to the viewer that survival should be a priority and not the morality of the means of survival.
“Spring in a Small Town”
The film faced censorship by the Chinese government for the reason that it lacked a strong political background. However, it resurfaced and became one of the best films in China. The film mainly dwells on the story of a woman who became emotionally disturbed after being forced to suppress her re-ignited feelings towards a friend to her husband who happened to be her first and only secret true love. The film tells an emotional story of restraint and yearning, regret and ardour. The film encompasses conflicts and crises of various types, virtues and cultural restrictions that portray the society of the film in a given manner. The aspects of the film that depicts the trauma that envisaged an alienated family is captured in this essay.
Nature of Conflict and Crisis in the Film
A lot of symbolism has been used to depict the political conflict in the film. The damaging impacts of the Second World War has been figuratively shown in the slowly decaying and crumbling city wall. The political aspect of the county China is seen to be affected by the world war. But, the symbolism is majorly used to depict the brokenness in the heart of Yuwen.
There is also a family crisis in the relationship between Yuwen and Liyan. The structure of their home has broken, and their intimate connection has deteriorated a lot. They seem to be lacking affection of each other and the conflict of interest between the two based on the marriage foundations, and responsibilities have been shown. A conflict of interest exists as Yuwen is not interested in a marriage union she adored at one time.
The individual conflict of interest between what Yuwen desires and what the society wants her to be also poses a major contention in the film. The main interest of Yuwen is to have back the former secret lover while the community restrains her from doing so. The magnitude of this conflict causes her to have emotional trauma that is symbolised by the continuous crumbling of the wall in which the society film is set. The piercing of the clothes with a needle has also been used symbolically to depict how the issue of restricting her to unite with her lover was weighty enough.
The conflict of interest seen in the family of Yuwen is solvable. It is a family conflict that can be resolved by promoting dialogue in the family and initiating change of behaviour as noted by Ojelabi (pg. 53-56).
Relationships within the Family Set-Ups
The major family relationship that is revealed by the film is that of the couples. Yuwen is seen to have lost interest in her doctor husband, and there is no more romance in their relationship. Her husband’s health is deteriorating, and he has little to do to improve the dying relationship between them. Yuwen, therefore, stays with the husband just because the strict Chinese culture has forced her to do so, but she is unhappy with the relationship.
The moral virtues in the society as portrayed by Yuwen’s character have eroded too much. As a married woman her, her feelings for another man have persisted and has led her to a situation of introducing another man top their marriage. The secret lover, Zhichen takes advantage of the weakness of the bond between the couples and gets his way to Yuwen.
The fact that the society of the film cannot permit the reunion of the secret lovers is a strong evidence that the society had strong proponents for morality. Good conduct was highly valued in that society. That is why the promiscuous Yuwen hides her lover when he pays her a visit so that she can avoid facing the consequences.
The message from the film
The film drives a solid message to the viewer’s even in the current society. It teaches the married couples that they should learn to mend their differences to avoid the creation of unwanted problems. In the case of the film, the fallen state of the couple’s romantic affair creates a noble chance for Zhichen to enter in between.
Farewell my concubine. Dir. Kaige Chen. Perf. Xiaolou, Dieyi. Reel [distributor, 2006. DVD.
Ojelabi, Lola Akin. "Values and the resolution of cross-cultural conflicts." Global Change, Peace & Security 22.1 (2010): 53-73. Print.
Spring in a small town.. Dir. Fei Mu. Perf. Yuwen. Cinema Epoch Kv, 2007. DVD.