From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Forever Enthralled (simplified Chinese:
梅兰芳; traditional Chinese:
梅蘭芳; pinyin: Méi Lánfāng) is
a Chinese biographical
film directed by Chen
Kaige; the film marks Chen's eleventh feature film as a
director. Forever Enthralled follows the life of Mei Lanfang, one of
China's premiere opera performers. It stars Leon Lai as Mei, Zhang Ziyi, Sun Honglei and Masanobu Ando.
Known during production as Mei Lanfang, the film's
English title was changed in November 2008, shortly before its
release, to Forever Enthralled.
The film was shown in competition at the 2009 Berlin International
Film Festival for the Golden Bear
Forever Enthralled was produced on a budget of $15
million (US) by the China Film Group
and Taiwan's China Magnetics Corporation Company (CMC Company),
which had previously helped fund John Woo's Red Cliff and Alexi Tan's Blood Brothers.
Unlike Chen's previous film, The Promise, Chen is not
re-teaming with his usual producers, Etchie Stroh and Moonstone
Just prior to the film's release in December 2008, Forever
Enthralled producer, the China Film Group,
ran into legal hurdles after it was sued by another production
company, Milimeter. Milimeter claimed that it held the copyright to the film based
on a contract signed between the two companies in 2004.
In an interview with Newsweek, director Chen Kaige stated that
in contrast with his previous film about Beijing opera, "Farewell My Concubine
is fiction" whereas "Mei Lanfang existed in history." In
Farewell, Chen had more freedom with the story (based on
Lilian Lee's novel),
but with the biographical Mei Lanfang, Chen was more
careful as the film was made under the blessings of Mei Lanfang's
family and Chen consulted with Mei's son about the film's
Chen revealed that many topics, such as Mei's extramarital affair,
were "taboo" to the family, but that Mei's son told Chen to "do
whatever you want to do" so long as the film deals with those
topics with respect.
- Leon Lai as Mei Lanfang. Before Lai
was tapped to play the famous opera singer, Chen Kaige reportedly
also considered Taiwanese star Leehom Wang. Lai,
along with Zhang Ziyi, underwent training with veteran Peking Opera
singers to ready themselves for their roles.
- Zhang Ziyi as Meng
Xiaodong, Mei Lanfang's lover.
- Wang Xueqi as Tan
Xinpei, a veteran opera singer.
- Sun Honglei as
Hong as Fu Zhifang as Mei Lanfang's wife.
Ando; Japanese actor Ando joined the cast along with Gillian
Chung and Chen Hong. Actor Kimura Takuya was
also considered for the role as an opera-obsessed Japanese army
officer, Tanaka Ryuichi, who befriends Mei Lanfang.
Chung as Fu Zhifang as a young woman; the Hong Kong actress
joined the cast of the film as Mei Lanfang's wife shortly after it
began principal photography, along with actors Chen
Hong and Masanobu Ando, in July 2007. After
she completed her scenes, Chung faced some controversy as a result
of her involvement in the Edison Chen photo scandal.
Rumors swirled that her scenes would be cut due to public outcry,
though producers at China Film Group
initially announced that they would keep her in the film and that
she would participate in the film's publicity. The
decision to keep Chung was reportedly met with disapproval by Mei
By November 2008, the film's producers confirmed that Chung had
indeed been cut from the film, thought it was unclear whether the
decision was made because of the scandal, or it was made by the SARFT, or was
the result of bowing to Mei Lanfang's family's wishes.
The film made its international premiere by showing in
competition at the 59th Berlin
International Film Festival, where it received positive
responses, with critics calling it a "sumptuous" film.
The Hollywood Reporter
describes the film as "traditional but elegantly mounted," and
although less exotic than Farewell My Concubine, Chen
"exhibits a firm grasp of subject, sympathetic characterization and
a connoisseur's eye for the cultural milieu of 1930s-'40s
The review writes the film's art direction as "superb" and states
"from splendidly lit interiors to authentic costumes and
accessories, evoking the theater culture and literati scene of
However, Variety on the other hand
states the film is a "largely workmanlike biopic" that is only
Variety describes the film's supporting performances are
strong and more so than the leading performances, and the film
"rarely achieves the artistic elevation it strives for."
The review did however gave praise to the film's production design,
costume and cinematography.
- ^ a
Lim, Marcus & Coonan, Clifford
(2008-11-05). "Chen Kaige "Forever
Enthralled" by opera star". Variety. http://varietyasiaonline.com/content/view/7426/. Retrieved
Story of Chinese opera star
heads up Berlinale Asian lineup. The Earth Times.
- ^ a
Frater, Patrick (2007-05-16). "Chen Kaige to direct 'Mei
Lan-fang'". Variety. http://www.variety.com/article/VR1117965078.html?categoryid=13&cs=1. Retrieved
- ^ a
Coonan, Clifford (2008-09-15). "Operatic struggle over China
biopic". Variety. http://www.variety.com/article/VR1117992220.html. Retrieved
- ^ a
Back for An Encore: Filmmaker Chen Kaige uses opera
again to help explain Chinese society. Newsweek. 01-19-2009
CRI (2007-01-06). "Chen Kaige plans to shoot
Mei Lanfang biography". China Economic Net. http://en.ce.cn/entertainment/movie/200701/06/t20070106_10007534.shtml. Retrieved
China Daily staff (2007-07-21).
"Who's In". China Daily. http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/cndy/2007-07/21/content_5440766.htm. Retrieved
Xinhua News Agency (2007-06-07). "Japanese actor added to "Mei
Lanfang" cast". English.eastday.com. http://english.eastday.com/eastday/englishedition/features/userobject1ai2954015.html. Retrieved
Coonan, Clifford (2007-07-22). "Trio join 'Mei Lanfang'".
Variety. http://www.variety.com/article/VR1117968985.html. Retrieved
Coonan, Clifford (2008-08-15). "Gillian Chung to remain in
'Lanfang'". Variety. http://www.variety.com/article/VR1117990629.html. Retrieved
Mike Collett-White (2009-02-14). "London tale, Iran tragedy
lead Berlin film charge". Reuters. Moviefone. http://movies.aol.com/news/story/_a/london-tale-iran-tragedy-lead-berlin/n20090214000109990004. Retrieved
"London tale, Iran tragedy
lead Berlin film charge". Reuters. 2009-02-14. http://in.reuters.com/article/entertainmentNews/idINIndia-38011320090214?pageNumber=2&virtualBrandChannel=0. Retrieved
- ^ a
Lee, Maggie (2009-01-12). "Film Review: Forever
Enthralled". The Hollywood Reporter. http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/hr/film-reviews/film-review-forever-enthralled-1003930638.story. Retrieved
- ^ a
Elley, Derek (2009-01-12). "Forever Enthralled
Review". Variety. http://www.variety.com/review/VE1117939312.html?categoryid=31&cs=1&nid=4157. Retrieved