M. Butterfly (film)
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||David Cronenberg|
|Produced by||Gabriella Martinelli|
|Screenplay by||David Henry Hwang|
|Based on||M. Butterfly
by David Henry Hwang
|Music by||Howard Shore|
|Edited by||Ronald Sanders|
|Distributed by||Warner Bros.|
M. Butterfly is a 1993 romantic drama film directed by David Cronenberg. The screenplay was written by David Henry Hwang based on his play of the same name. The film stars Jeremy Irons and John Lone, with Ian Richardson, Barbara Sukowa, and Annabel Leventon.
This article needs an improved plot summary. (September 2015)
Loosely based on true events (see Bernard Boursicot and Shi Pei Pu), the film concerns René Gallimard (Jeremy Irons), a French diplomat assigned to Beijing, China in the 1960s. He becomes infatuated with a Chinese opera performer, Song Liling (John Lone), who spies on him for the Government of the People's Republic of China.
Their affair lasts for 20 years, with Gallimard all the while apparently unaware (or willfully ignorant) of the fact that in traditional Chinese opera, all roles are performed by men. Eventually, Gallimard betrays his country and is tried for treason, which forces him to face the truth about his relationship. Faced with the unbearable truth that his lover is actually male, he himself takes on the role of Butterfly, the woman who died for the sake of an illusory love.
- Jeremy Irons as René Gallimard
- John Lone as Song Liling
- Ian Richardson as Ambassador Toulon
- Barbara Sukowa as Jeanne Gallimard
- Annabel Leventon as Frau Baden
- Shizuko Hoshi as Comrade Chin
- Vernon Dobtcheff as Agent Entacelin
One theme of the film (as with the play) is Orientalist stereotypes, but Cronenberg removed many of the political overtones from the story in order to focus more intensely on the relationship between Gallimard and Song. A key line in the film is "Only a man knows how a woman is supposed to act."
M. Butterfly grossed a mere $1,498,795 in the domestic box office.