Watch M. Butterfly
- 1 hr 41 min
In the 1993 movie M. Butterfly, based on David Henry Hwang's play of the same name, French diplomat Rene Gallimard (Jeremy Irons) falls in love with a beautiful Chinese opera singer named Song Liling (John Lone) whom he meets in Beijing in 1964. Despite the fact that their relationship is initially purely platonic, over time Gallimard begins to believe that Song is, in fact, a woman, and he becomes increasingly obsessed with her. As the years go by, the two continue their affair, which eventually leads Gallimard to divulge classified information to Song, a suspected spy. He is eventually caught and held accountable for his actions, but throughout the entire ordeal, he remains convinced of Song's love for him. Throughout the film, the relationship between Gallimard and Song is explored in depth, along with the themes of gender identity, cultural and racial biases, and the power dynamics in relationships. Song, who is actually a man who has been posing as a woman, challenges Gallimard's preconceived notions of masculinity and femininity, as well as his ideas about Chinese culture. John Lone delivers a powerful performance as Song, seamlessly transitioning between the roles of a delicate and feminine opera singer, and a shrewd and manipulative individual who is more than capable of outsmarting the people around him. Barbara Sukowa also gives an excellent portrayal of Gallimard's wife, who is aware of her husband's affair but chooses to remain silent, managing to convey both her pain and her strength in the face of adversity. The cinematography and production design of the film are also noteworthy, transporting the audience to both the traditional world of Chinese opera, as well as the gritty, urban landscape of 1960s Beijing. The music, composed by Howard Shore, who would later go on to create the score for the Lord of the Rings films, is also a highlight, evocative of both the sweeping romance and the troubling undercurrents of the story. Overall, M. Butterfly is a powerful and thought-provoking examination of love, betrayal, and identity, as well as a scathing critique of the societal and cultural biases that can limit our understanding of the world around us. The film is a masterclass in acting and storytelling, and its themes continue to resonate with audiences today.