M. Butterfly (film)

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This article is about the Cronenberg film. For the 1915 film, see Madame Butterfly (1915 film). For the 1919 film, see Harakiri (1919 film). For the 1932 film, see Madame Butterfly (1932 film). For other uses, see Madame Butterfly (disambiguation).
M. Butterfly
M Butterfly poster.jpg
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
Cinematography Peter Suschitzky
Edited by Ronald Sanders
Distributed by Warner Bros.
Release date
  • October 1, 1993 (1993-10-01)
Running time
101 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Box office $1,498,795

M. Butterfly is a 1993 American 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.[1]


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.



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.[2]

The film currently holds a 42% 'Rotten' rating on Rotten Tomatoes.[3] It also holds a 43 from Metacritic.[4]

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