Forever Enthralled

Forever Enthralled

Forever Enthralled

  In the strange world of Beijing opera, the third hijacked competition entry of the day in which led to Chen Kaige (Farewell My Concubine), one of the great filmmakers from China’s “fifth generation” director. Forever Enthralled tells the story of Mei Lanfang (Leon Lai), who is considered one of the great preserver of Beijing Opera and the venture was the first to jump in the U.S..

As Mei Lanfang (1894-1961) large time begins, the Beijing Opera no longer as popular as ever. And there also an actor in Chinese society were little regarded, has to prevail, the young singers and actors only at enormous resentment within his family until he can play on the stage. Again and again he will encounter in the course of his career in opposition, needs to assert itself against his old master to defend its interests against those of his mentor and his financial backers, he experienced a secret love for the singer and actress Xaiodong Meng (Zhang Ziyi) and must ultimately resist the advances of the Japanese occupiers who want to exploit the popularity of the stars of the Beijing Opera strictly for propaganda purposes.

A life full of pressures, and despite all the fame, also a very lonely life, where Mei is always between the desires for personal freedom and commitment to his talent and his audience must balance – with the latter almost always has the upper hand. If you look closely a very sad life, Chen Kaige shows in opulently-bunt, and then again historicizing sepia images.

With 147 minutes, the film is quite long, and – apart from the exoticism of Beijing Opera – also got very conventional. And often enough one has the impression that the director, as well as Mei Lanfang, the boundaries between stage and life quite fluent in design. Heavy feelings in order to unrequited love and loss, friendship and betrayal, and the loneliness of the artist, who must suffer in order to push his art to the highest peaks to which all sounds a bit too much to the great opera and too little about the true life. Additionally, those who with the Beijing Opera is not familiar with the detailed sequences should be bored with excerpts from the operas at times a bit – especially the singing and the music to untrained ears, but then very strenuous and monotonous sounds. The last ten years of Mei Lanfang’s completely left out, which strikes a negative in the end, despite almost two and a half hours running time. Because you would have learned to be happy, whether and how Mei Lanfang has mastered in the days of communism, the balance between external circumstances and his art.

(Joachim Kurz)

Title: Forever Enthralled Country of production: China Year of production: 2009 Length: 147 (Min)

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