The film, the author, argues, uses political challenges as a backdrop for the story of the locale whose inhabitants strive to retain an identity free from the state’s ideological manipulations. As such, it foreshadows the sixth generation filmmakers’ use of urban setting as spaces for personal memory.
The tension between this different uses of memory is portrayed in two sequences that open farewell. They are the failure of recognition, the fickleness of the memory, the use of the reconnection as a stake in personal grievances and staging of these issues in theatrical spectacles. The scene also links personal memories to larger historical narratives foreshadowing the films epic span of fifty-three years marked by key political events. According to the author, Critical discussion of the film has largely targeted the more heavily ideological issues. In particular, the construction of the national history and the performance of the queer desire sometimes mentioned in the breath. Through the reference to the urban landmarks representation of Beijing, farewell offsets the national narrative with a focus on the intimate spaces of the city and their past. It presents a plotline that brings together the melodrama and the national historical narrative.
Farewell does not show many recognized Beijing landmarks, but it captures the experience of the lived in the city. Although the film presents operatic and political spectacles, it gives more attention to an everyday aspect of day to day life in Beijing alleys. It uses visual and auditory clues to locate the plot and motivate the story line. For example, in a case in a point is the architectural symbolism that accesses the theme of overlap between operatic spectacle and the political struggles.
According to kaige’s testimony, the film allows the director to return to Beijing intimate space and his experience in growing up in the city that he associates with betrayal.