Films A to Z

Forever Enthralled

147 min.
Year of Production:
VR China
Leon Lai
Zhang Ziyi
Sun Honglei
Chen Hong
Ying Da
Wang Xueqi
Yu Shaoqun
Masanobu Ando
Production Company:
Beijing Film Studio; China Film Group Corporation
Berlinale Section:
Berlinale Category:
Feature Film

Bertolt Brecht was one of his admirers, as was Charlie Chaplin and Sergei Eisenstein, who even filmed him. Chinese actor and singer Mei Lanfang (1894 –1961) was one of Peking opera’s most significant performers and innovators. His performances helped considerably to popularise Peking opera in the West. His life unfolds in this opulent period drama.
Mei Lanfang was born into a family that had performed Peking opera for generations. Like his grandfather Mei Qiaoling before him, Mei Lanfang later only appeared in female roles and suffered considerable contempt as a result. At the end of the nineteenth century, actors were considered socially to be on a par with prostitutes. But Mei Lanfang is also struggling for recognition within the theatre. In particular, his innovative style of performing – although popular with young people – proves to be a challenge to veteran actor Swallow 13. A life-or-death duel between these two rival performers sees Mei Lanfang emerge as victor. After having found fame in Asia, in 1929 he receives an invitation to the USA. Before long, he is performing on Broadway, no less. But Mei Lanfang pays a high price for his success. Shortly afterwards, his stage counterpart Meng Xiaodong, who regards the married Mei Lanfang as more than just a professional partner, is assassinated at the order of Mei Lanfang’s friend and manager, Qiu Rubai. It is Rubai again who undermines Mei Lanfang’s refusal to perform in China after the Japanese occupation in 1937 by publicly announcing his return to the stage. Mei Lanfang’s appearance at a press conference organised by the Japanese turns out to be the climax of his career…


Born in Peking on 12.8.1952. The son of a film director, he worked as a rural labourer during the Cultural Revolution and served five years in the army before becoming one of the first students to join the recently reopened Beijing Film Academy in 1978. He first attended the Forum section of the Berlinale in 1989 with his work, HAI ZI WANG (KING OF THE CHILDREN). In 1993, his film BA WANG BIE JI (FAREWELL MY CONCUBINE) was presented at Cannes where it was to become the first Chinese film ever to win the Palme d’Or. He is married to actor and producer Chen Hong

FILMOGRAFIE Chen Kaige (selection)

2009 Forever Enthralled  1993 Farewell My Concubine 

Kaige Chen IMDb

back to overview