Beijing opera has a long history in Chinese cimenatography; it was the subject of China's first known movie Dingju Mountain (1905) (Ge 2008: From Beijing Opera to the First Chinese Film para. 1) (see picture). The few movies below are a sampling of Beijing opera movies with English subtitles and/or program notes. Youtube videos or links to websites with more information on the films are provided below each movie.


  • Forever Enthralled(Mei Lanfang). 2008. Dir. Chen Kaige; sc. Yan Geling, Chen Guofu, Zhang Jialu; music by Zhao Jiping. Hong Kong: Emperor Motion Pictures. (movie: 146 minutes; bonus materials: 108 minutes)

    "[This movie is] a biopic about the life of renowned Beijing opera artist Mei Lanfang, active in the cultural milieu of 1930s-1940s China. The movie starts with a young Mei Lanfang and his rise to fame in the Beijing opera world for playing female roles. Though his performance is appreciated by many, his feminine roles receives disdain. He incurrs the wrath of veteran performer and family friend Shi Sanyan, and a duel ensues. Shisanyan is defeated and dies, and Mei Lanfang fears that he will end up the same way. Although married, Mei Lanfang carries on an affair with Meng Xiaodong without much consideration for his wife Fu Zhifang, leaving her to dwell in her own jealousy. Not for long, though. Meng Xiaodong eventually realizes and understands Fu Zhifang's words when she confronts her: "Mei Lanfang is not yours or mine. He belongs to his fans." Meng Xiaodong ends the affair with Mei Lanfang and disappears from his life. Despite the loss of a confidante, Mei Lanfang continues to his performances, winning the hearts of a Western audience. (OCLC 2011: Mei Lanfang Abstract)." English subtitles are provided.

    OCLC. 2011. Mei Lanfang. (OCLC Accession Number: 316788324). Jan. 3.

    For an in-depth review of this film including the similarities of the movie characters to the actual people go to this link:

ZZINFOS. 2008. Mei Lanfang Trailer. Youtube. Nov. 3. 22 December 2010.
  • The Worlds of Mei Lanfang. 2001. Dir. Mei-juin Chen; sc. Ross Blaufarb, Bronwyn Barkan, and Mei-juin Chen; with Alan Chow, Lu Wenchin, Mei Shaowu, Wen Ruhua, Song Xioachuan, and Gold Star. Hohkus, NJ: Lotus Film Productions. (57 minutes)

    This film provides both an inside look at Mei Lanfang's personal life, performance, the events that took place in his life and how they affected him. His life is depicted through archival film and pictures as well as interviews with his son Mei Shaowu and family acquaintance Lu Wenchin.

    A detailed review of the film is at the following link:

  • Farewell My Concubine (Ba Wang Bie Ji). 1993. Dir. Chen Kaige; sc. Lilian Lee, Lu Wei; Burbank, CA: Buena Vista Home Entertainment/Miramax Home Entertainment. (172 minutes)

    This movie describes the lives of two male Chinese opera actors and how their relationship changes over the span of decades. The portrayal of the downfall of the Qing dynasty, the Japanese invasion, and the Cultural Revolution and how they affect the actors' lives and relationship with each other is also emphasized. English subtitles are provided.

Vivianmomo. 2010. Farewell My Concubine(1993) [sic] Ba Wang Bie Ji Trailer. Youtube. May 14. 22 December 2010.

  • The Perfumed Handkerchief. 1981. Dir. Rob Hearn; sc. Jim Doney; with Liu Xiuyong, Zhang Chunxiao, Ko Yinying, Li Hua, Zhang Huasen, and Sun Wanhua. CCTV, the television network of The People's Republic of China in collaboration with Lee Productions, Inc. of Honolulu Hawaii. Distributed by KULTUR International Films, Ltd. (70 minutes)

    The Chinese Peking Opera Company performs an opera in the famous Summer Palace in Beijing. Two commentators familiar with Chinese culture and comedy provide an introduction to Beijing opera, the summer palace, and summaries of each act. English subtitles are provided.

    More information is at:

Websites with more sources

Wikimedia Commons. 2010. File:Tan Xinpei Dingjunshan 1905.jpg. July 27. 22 Dec. 2010.

Dingjunshan source: Ge, Congming. 2008. "Photography, Shadow Play, Beijing Opera and the First Chinese Film." Feb. 14. Eras Journal. 2 Jan. 2011.