Madame Butterfly (1932)

Love has no boundaries, and it has no language. Madame Butterfly is one such story of different cultures and how one can get caught in the web of hope. The story is about lust on one side and love on the other.

Lieutenant Pinkerton (Cary Grant) arrives on the shore of Japan for a holiday. Lt Barton, his buddy, accompanies him to a local establishment to look out for food, drinks, and girls. Pinkerton gets attracted to the local muse Cho-Cho San (Sylvia Sidney).

Pinkerton is given Barton’s advice to marry Cho and enjoy her company with the family’s approval. Although not serious, he was concerned about what would happen to Cho once he leaves Japan.

Abandonment is considered equivalent to divorce in Japan. Barton stressed this point to Pinkerton, saying Cho will be free to marry any local guy once he abandons her and returns to America. Pinkerton marries Cho and spends few days at her place.

Cho’s mom and grandfather treat Pinkerton well. Cho is in love with him, and it was hard for her to accept that he will be away in a few days. With no promise, Cho waits for the return of Pinkerton. Three years pass by; she eagerly waits to meet her husband and give him a surprise, their son. She makes frequent visits to the harbour in the hope of seeing Pinkerton coming to meet her.

Pinkerton does arrive in Japan, along with his American bride. He meets Cho and tells the true story, and apologises to her. This admission by Pinkerton dashed the hope through which Cho lived for the past three years.

This is the story of Madame Butterfly. Paramount’s 1932 movie and directed by Marion Gering, was a non-singing version of the opera by the same name by Giacomo Puccini. The opera is based on the short story written by John Luther Long in 1898 and dramatised by David Belasco.