Farewell My Concubine – a movie review

July 2, 2013

Chen Kaige, self-trained as a filmmaker, was the director for this award winning 1993 film. Prior to “Farewell, My Concubine“, Chen received modest acclaim for the “Yellow Earth” and “The Big Parade”. With “Farewell, My Concubine,” he won the Palme d-or in Cannes.

Although the film is in Mandarin with English subtitles, the story captured me from the beginning. If you are interested in Chinese history, this film spans several decades beginning near the end of the Qing Dynasty. On the surface, it is just a story of two boys who happen to become famous, but have their difficulties like most of us lesser mortals do. However, the setting shows the  transformation of a nation from the Qing Dynasty to a warlord dominated republic, the Japanese invasion of World War II and then Mao’s Cultural Revolution.

I saw this movie a decade ago and I remember this powerful, dramatic story of one man’s life from the day his mother took a knife and chopped off an extra finger on each hand so he would have five instead of the six he was born with.

The main character is apparently modeled after an actual person—Peking Opera superstar Mei Lanfang—some may imagine that Lanfang was ‘gay’. However, he only specialized in male roles. He was married at least three times and had children.

Discover Not One Less

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

His latest novel, Running with the Enemy, was awarded an honorable mention in general fiction at the 2013 San Francisco Book Festival.

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New Year’s Recap

January 1, 2011

There’s much about China that I did not know when we started this journey on January 28, 2010. 

We visited China’s early dynasties (the Xia, Shang and Zhou) before Qin Shi Huangdi became the first emperor and unified China.

Then we visited the Han, Tang, Sung, Ming and Qing Dynasties while learning of the chaos and anarchy between the dynasties.

We met Confucius and Wu Zetian, China’s only woman emperor during the Tang Dynasty.

We discovered China’s music, art and opera while meeting one of China’s national treasures, Mao Wei-Tao.

Learning about the 19th century Opium Wars started by the British and French opened my eyes to evils I had not known of.

What shocked me most was how the West forced China to allow Christian missionaries into China along with opium.

One reader challenged me in a comment saying that couldn’t be true then didn’t respond when I provided links to the evidence that missionaries and opium were included in the same treaty, which forced the emperor to accept against his will.

Then I sat spellbound as I joined Mao and the Communists on the Long March where more than 80,000 started out and about 6,000 survived — the only choice was to fight or die.

Along the way, I learned that Sun Yat-sen was the father of China’s republic and how Chiang Kai-shek started the Civil War in 1925 when he ordered his army to slaughter the Chinese Communists.

I didn’t know that the Communist and Nationalist Parties were the two political parties of China’s first republic and how it was the US supported Nationalists that fired the first shot that shattered Sun Yat-sen’s dream for China.

After the Communists won the Civil War in 1949, I saw the suffering and death from Mao’s mistakes during the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution that ended in 1976.

Then we learned how Deng Xiaoping saved China from the Revolutionary Maoists and launched the Capitalist Revolution, which led to the Tiananmen Square incident then China’s Sexual Revolution.

And there was my continued attempt to explain China’s Collective Culture. One comment basically said, “Yea, sure!” as if there were no such thing as cultural differences such as this.

We also were introduced to other Blogs about China such as the China Law Blog.

Of course, with more than a thousand posts in a year, what I have mentioned here is but a small part of the 2010 journey of China.

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of the concubine saga, My Splendid Concubine & Our Hart. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too.

If you want to subscribe to iLook China, there is a “Subscribe” button at the top of the screen in the menu bar.


Too Much History

September 28, 2010

I’ve read A FEW opinions about iLook China on other Blogs that say I write too much about China’s history.

I’ve also been judged to be a “Panda Lover” and “Pro China”.

I happen to enjoy learning about history and there is a reason that history has been included as a topic in this Blog.


A SHORT HISTORY LESSON

Barbara Tuchman (1912 to 1989) explains it better than I do. 

Tuchman was an American self-trained historian and author, who twice won the Pulitzer Prize for general non-fiction.

One of her last books was The March of Folly: From Troy to Vietnam.

Tuchman says, Many individuals are guilty of folly (Tuchman also calls this woodenheadedness), but when governments persist in folly, their actions can adversely affect thousands, even millions of lives. Folly is a child of power. “The power to command frequently causes failure to think.” (p.32).

I’ve read that historians say an event must be at least fifty-years old to be judged as history. I used that as my criteria.


LEARN FROM HISTORY

I wanted to find out if I was writing too much history about China, so I surveyed all 734 posts that I have written to date.

The first history post I discovered was Foreign Devil Heroes and that was post 49 that appeared on February 13.

An American Genocide (56) and An American Shadow Over the Philippines (57) qualify but those two are about American history, and I have discovered that some misguided American patriots don’t want to learn about the dark side of U.S. history. 

The next history post would be Learning from China’s History (90).

Next was China’s Health Care During Mao’s Time (92)

Post 118 is about The Man Who Made China, which qualifies since China’s first emperor lived more than two millennia ago.

The history of religion in China appears with Christianity and Islam in China (125) followed by Cults and Christian Cannon Balls (126) and The Influence of Confucius (127).

Since so much of China’s history with Christianity and Islam turns out bad, one commenter complained that I was against Christianity.


A LONG HISTORY LESSON

Of more than 730 posts, 107 were on history and 70 of those appeared in the last two months mixed in with more than a hundred posts on other topics—the number of history posts represents less than 15% of the total.

Then I checked statistics for top posts of “All Time”.  If no one was reading history, I decided I would stop writing about it.

Seven history posts were among the top twenty and iLook China has had more than eleven thousand visits since the January 28, 2010 launch. 

That means 35% of the top 20 most-popular posts visited were on China’s history.


A FINAL LESSON ABOUT HISTORY

For individuals who want to avoid history, there are menus on the HOME page that offer choices.

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of the concubine saga, My Splendid Concubine & Our Hart. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. 

If you want to subscribe to iLook China, there is a “Subscribe” button at the top of the screen in the menu bar.


China’s Holistic Historical Timeline: Part 4 of 5

January 28, 2010

Timeline Viewed as Single Page

1912 – 1976

Dr. Sun Yat-Sen, the father of China’s Republics

Sun Yat-sen’s Last Days

Yuan Shikai, the general who became China’s president for life

Chiang Kai-shek, brutal dictator and America’s friend

America’s Angel Island

Massacre in Taiwan and America says nothing

Mao’s Long March

China’s Communist Revolution or Civil War

Mao and Snow

World War II and The Rape of Nanking

Japan’s war of lies about atrocities in China

The Rape of Nanking with Iris Chang

China’s Health Care During Mao’s Time

Mao Zedong, the Poet

Xiu Xiu: The Sent Down Girl

From Mao to the Met

Mao’s Last Dancer

The Founding of a Republic

Ah Bing and “Reflection of the Moon”

Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress

Tibet Inside China

China’s Sensitivity over Tibet

Tibet as a Province of China – the unresolved issue

No Way is Tibet a Democracy in Exile!

Chinese Gold from Dead Tibetan Caterpillars

China in Korea Protecting the Teeth

China’s Great Leap Forward

China’s Great Famine (1959 – 1961)

Mao’s ‘alleged’ Guilt in the Land of Famines

Mao and Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

China and India at War – 1962

The KMT-CIA Heroin, Cocaine Pipeline to the US

Pearl S. Bucks’ China Predictions – 1966

Nixon in China

Continued with China’s Holistic Historical Timeline: Part 5 or return to Part 3

Timeline Viewed as Single Page

_______________

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

His latest novel is the multiple-award winning Running with the Enemy.

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Sign up for an E-mail Subscription at the top of this page, or click on the “Following” tab in the WordPress toolbar at the top of the screen.

About iLook China


China’s Holistic Historical Timeline: Part 5 of 5

January 28, 2010

Timeline Viewed as Single Page

Deng Xiaoping

The Sino-Vietnam War of 1979

The Controversy, Complexity and Reality behind China’s One-Child Policy

The Tiananmen Square Hoax

Tiananmen Square Revisited

What is the truth about Tiananmen Square?

On the trail of Dr. Li’s illusive Memories

Water: the Democracy versus the Authoritarian Republic

Greenpeace and the growth of environmentalism in China

China’s Educated Women Work to Bring about Change from Within

China’s Stick People – the rural urban divide

China’s Porn War

Evil Tobacco

Joining the Party

Communism and Socialism are NOT the SAME

Country Driving with Peter Hessler

Oprah Times Four in China

Hooters in China

What do Shanghai’s IKEA and Cupid have in common?

Macao Bringing in the Cash

Falun Gong’s Media Machine

The differences between Individualism and Collective Cultures

Return to China’s Holistic Historical Timeline: Part 4 or start with Part 1

Timeline Viewed as Single Page

_______________

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

His latest novel is the multiple-award winning Running with the Enemy.

Subscribe to “iLook China”!
Sign up for an E-mail Subscription at the top of this page, or click on the “Following” tab in the WordPress toolbar at the top of the screen.

About iLook China


China’s Holistic Historical Timeline: Part 2 of 5

January 28, 2010

Timeline Viewed as Single Page

206 BC – 219 AD

The Han Dynasty

Buddhism in China

With or Without Paper

Measuring Earthquakes

 

Near the end of the Han Dynasty to 280 AD

Romance of the Three Kingdoms

 

300 – 644 AD

A Millennia of History at a Silk Road Oasis

[youtube-http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R29A0GyLYlE]

 

596 – 644 AD

Hsuan-tsang – From China to India for Enlightenment

 

618 – 906 AD

The Tang Dynasty

Wu Zetian, China’s only Female Emperor and an early feminist

Ancient Feminism in China

Tang Dynasty Poetry

The Accidental Discovery of Gunpowder

Ice Cream from China – Myth or Fact

The First Cinderella was Chinese

The Tea Horse Road

Chinese Crossbow and other Inventions

Quyi: Chinese Singing and Storytelling

Christianity and Islam in China

The Kaifeng Jews

 

 925 – 1279 AD

Sung Dynasty

China’s Imperial Encyclopedia

China’s Bound-Feet Women

The Machines of China

 

1279 – 1368 AD

Yuan Dynasty: Kublai Khan’s Mongol Empire [China conquered]

Shanghai’s History & Culture

China’s Real Karate Kids

The Millennium Cult

The White Lotus Mutation

Continued with China’s Holistic Historical Timeline: Part 3 or return to Part 1

Timeline Viewed as Single Page

 _______________

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

His latest novel is the multiple-award winning Running with the Enemy.

Subscribe to “iLook China”!
Sign up for an E-mail Subscription at the top of this page, or click on the “Following” tab in the WordPress toolbar at the top of the screen.

About iLook China


China’s Holistic Historical Timeline: Part 3 of 5

January 28, 2010

Timeline Viewed as Single Page

1368 – 1643 AD

The Ming Dynasty Part 1

The Ming Dynasty Part 2

Emperor Yangle of the Ming Dynasty

Ruling the Oceans

China’s Romeo and Juliet

 

1644 – 1911 AD

The Qing Dynasty

China’s Last Dynasty

China’s Last Empress Dowager-Regent

The Prince’s Garden

The Qing Dynasty’s Elite Troops

For All the Tea in China

The Connection between Opium, Christianity, Cults and Cannon Balls

The Roots of Madness

The Opium Wars

The Taiping Rebellion; the Kingdom of Heavenly Peace (1845-1864)

A Forbidden City Connection to Tibet Revealed

Dream of the Red Chamber

Jingyun Dagu, Beijing’s Story Telling Opera

Peking Opera

The Importance of Guanxi to Chinese Civilization

Jack London in China

Discrimination against the Chinese in America

Continued with China’s Holistic Historical Timeline: Part 4 or return to Part 2

Timeline Viewed as Single Page

_______________

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

His latest novel is the multiple-award winning Running with the Enemy.

Subscribe to “iLook China”!
Sign up for an E-mail Subscription at the top of this page, or click on the “Following” tab in the WordPress toolbar at the top of the screen.

About iLook China