Last week, I came across stills for this 1930’s Chinese, Peking Opera-based novel adaptation and just like that Winter Begonia became my pick for necessary viewing this week.
In forty-nine (49) episodes, Winter Begonia tells the story of a Peking opera performer, Shang Xirui and a wealthy businessman, Cheng Fengtai, who are brought together by their love for opera.
Based on a Boys Love/Danmei novel of the same name, Winter Begonia is set during the Japanese occupation of China and follows Shang Xirui who relies on his outstanding performance talent to gain fame in Beiping.
As an outsider, and non-conformist, Shang Xirui, who is played by actor Andrew Yin, is exposed to the politicking and racketeering that characterized Peking opera circles at the time.
Shang Xirui‘s dedication to his craft draws the attention and support of wealthy businessman Cheng Fengtai, played by Huang Xio Ming, who falls in love with Peking Opera after watching a Shang Xirui performance for the first time. With Cheng Fengtai‘s financial and emotional assistance Shang Xirui develops a new performance troupe in Beiping.
Additionally, as this is a wartime drama, the scene is also set for our leads to take up arms for their country when the Japanese army eventually invades Beiping in 1937.
Like its predecessor The Untamed, while Winter Begonia is an adaptation of a BL novel the aspects of romance between the leads is reduced to a friendly bromance.
Nevertheless, the actual script writing and the beautiful cinematography by director Hui Kai Dong, who previously directed The Story of Yanxi Palace more than makes up for it.
For the storytelling and aesthetics, as well the sprinkle of history and culture throughout this drama, Winter Begonia is a must watch.
Have you watched Winter Begonia? Share your thoughts in the comments.