Wo de fu qin mu qin (1999)
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Upon receiving the news that his father has died, Luo Yusheng (Honglei Sun) leaves the city to return to his home, a small village in the mountains, to bury his father and comfort his bereaved mother, Zhao Di (Yulian Zhao). When he arrives, however, he discovers that his mother will not be consoled until her wish concerning the burial of her husband, Luo Changyu (Hao Zheng) is fulfilled. In keeping with a long standing tradition and superstition, Di insists that his coffin be carried by hand by the men of the village along the road connecting the village and the city, insuring by so doing that in death Changyu will always be able to remember his way home.
Yusheng quickly finds that realizing his mother's request will be no easy task; their village is small and all of the able-bodied men have left for the city, leaving only children and those too old for such an arduous undertaking. And it is winter, a harsh time of year in the mountains. But Di is adamant, and so Yusheng sets about the business of fulfilling her request. And as he does so, he reflects upon the story of his parents; a story well known throughout the village, for theirs was a love that was unbridled and boundless, the likes of which no one in the village had ever know before. Or since.
This film, so wonderfully crafted and delivered by director Zhang, is altogether ethereal and transporting; he tells the story in simplistic terms, and yet it is in that very simplicity that he finds the genuine honesty and truth that provides such an emotional impact and makes this love story one that rivals any the screen has ever known. Aided by the masterful cinematography of Yong Hou, Zhang achieves that same sense of transcendence that defines much of Akira Kurosawa's films, such as `Ran' and `Akira Kurosawa's Dreams,' or Ang Lee's `Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.' There is not a superfluous moment in the entire film, and Zhang proves that capturing pure emotion with the camera can express more than pages of dialogue recited by an actor. And with his lens, Zhang opens up the very heart of the film and lays it bare for all to see and feel, finding more in the eyes of his characters and in their expressions than words could ever convey. It's a study of human nature that is disarming in it's candor, and quite simply a brilliant piece of filmmaking by a director with an irrefutably incisive understanding of the human condition.
Without question, though, the single aspect that makes this such an unforgettable film is the performance (in her motion picture debut) by Ziyi Zhang as the young Zhao Di. A young woman of exquisite beauty, she has a sublime screen presence that is a portrait of the angelic, and her innate ability to silently express the myriad emotions called for by her character is used to great effect by director Zhang. Ziyi's portrayal is one of youthful innocence mixed with stubborn determination, which gives her character the necessary depth to be entirely convincing, and she will win you over in a heartbeat. She is so affecting that near the end, when Di, now an old woman, is hurrying across a rickety foot bridge, the same bridge we've seen the young Di traverse many times on her way to and from the schoolhouse (which is central to the story), despite the weathered age so evident on her face, because of the lasting impression made by Ziyi, you realize that she still bears the heart of the young woman you've come to care so much about by this time, and you understand that age is superficial; that this is a shell housing the spirit and the true beauty that resides within. It's a beautiful moment to behold, and ours forever, due to the extraordinary performance and presence of the delicate Ziyi Zhang, as well as the tremendous sensitivity and care with which she is presented by director Zhang.
The supporting cast includes Bin Li (Grandmother), Guifa Chang (Old Mayor), Wencheng Sung (Mayor) and Zhongxi Zhang (Crockery Repairman). A love story told sincerely from the heart is a treasure that endures forever, like a painting by Monet or Renoir; and like those artists, director Zhang is nothing less than an impressionist behind the camera, capturing the distinctive rhythms of life and love for all time in `The Road Home,' a gentle, poetic film that will make it's way into the hearts of all who experience it. And therein remain, forevermore. 10/10.
no one has ever moved me as much as she just did, I still have tears in my eyes...
Zhang Ziyi, who has now become an International star thanks to Crouching Tiger, Hero, House Of Flying Daggers and Memoirs Of A Geisha, never looked prettier and more appealing than here. Maybe that's because she plays such a sweet, innocent, non-violent (no martial arts here) character: a woman smitten with a new teacher in town and one who will go any lengths (in a totally pure sense) to be noticed and attract this man, mainly in the form of incredible patience.
This is one of the prettiest movies I've seen on DVD. It helps to be a fan of Ziyi and appreciate her beauty, because there are many shots of her face as she just stares looking for her man. This character gives new meanings to the words faithful, steadfast and devotion.
The film is actually two stories: the here-and-now about an old man and woman, and a long flashback telling the love story of how they met. In the first segment, the man had just died and the woman is grieving and making funeral arrangements. They involve walking with the casket a long way home, hence the title. The middle part of the film, the romance, features Ziyi. That middle segment - the courtship - is in brilliant, almost stunning-looking color. The beginning and end of the film are both in black-and-white. The cinematography for both parts is magnificent.
Director Zhang Yimou deserves credit for beautifully telling the story. Simple things (changing color of season from spring to winter) make for some stunning visuals like wheat fields flowing with the breeze and brightly leaf filled forests. Add a serene soundtrack and this is a movie worth seeing. See it for my sweetie Zhang Ziyi!
I liked a lot to watch how people in such villages live and how they dress and the movie gave attention to many daily events of those people.
Again, the acting is gorgeous, but the values that the movie is showing is great also and the strong bounds in the family is there in the movie and you can see how much the love and respect of a sun would make him do to meet his mothers wishes and how grateful student can be to a teacher gave his life to them.
Another point that I liked in the movie is how the director use color. In the current events, you will see black and white scenes and when flashbacks start the colors will come a life. The old days are better and there was the real life for the characters of this movie not the current days, except for the day the sun took his father's place in the school and start teaching the students of the village.
Great movie that I would love to watch again and again.
The writing was crafted quite well. The cast and crew's work showed their dedication. Definitely a movie for all ages, but a must for those who still believe in love and destiny. Although it's a tear- jerker, it's because the viewer feels for the characters, not because we had been force- fed sentimental moments. No one was killed, not a shot was fired, no cute animals, and no scenes of kissing. I'm trying to even remember if the mother and father had even held hands, yet one can feel that they both truly loved each other. Kudos to director Zhang Yimou, who crafted a thoughtful, moving, and believable movie.
I am definitely a big fan of Zhang Ziyi. I continue to track down her films. she possesses the classic Chinese female features, the petite face, the almond eyes, small stature and that iron determination. my wife who is Cantonese has these same features and character.
this film brought tears to my eyes for the solid eternal storyline of devotion and sacrifice. thats what its all about.
the scene where the young peasant girl makes the mushroom dumplings and then is heartbroken when her love is taken out of the village, she runs across the country trying to catch up to the cart but falls and breaks the bowl. her heart is broken too, and you are now wondering what it will take to mend her heart.
eventually such stubborn steadfastness results in the young man finding his way back to the village, and then the unseen authority from the big city sets a 2 year separation, perhaps it is to break the relationship that has developed. but eventually they are reunited and the young girl triumphs and welcomes her man wearing the red jacket that is his favorite.
the film then fast forwards to the situation of the son's attempts to comply with the devoted wife's wish to have her husband carried back to the village. and then we learn that she is not the only one devoted to the school teacher, his students come from all around to help in the procession. and the men from the next village hired to help refuse payment out of respect. this leaves money available to start a collection to finally get the school house rebuilt. so the dedication of the people to the school teacher is rewarded, and the closing moments of the film show the son reading from the same notebook the school teacher used 40 years ago.
this is a very heartwarming tale. the actors fit their character to a T. the scenery is harsh at times but beautiful, like the lives of the devoted couple and all the villagers.
after careful consideration: 10 / 10
To me, this movie is about the Home and the Road leading to the Home. That Home is Zhao Di's love to the village teacher. He is her destiny and eternity. The Road to Home is the road we see Di runs, walks, stalks and waits, a road that gives Di at times unbound joy of love and hope, but also trepidation, anxiety and deep sorrow, a road that witnesses Di's unfailing faith and determination.
Speaking of the road, most foreigners may not notice the peculiar way in which Zhao Di (Zhang Ziyi) runs or walks, and she runs a lot in the film. This is not the way Zhang Ziyi would run when she is not playing the role (remember the agile and elegant Zhang Ziyi in Hidden Dragon and Crouching Tiger?), but it is the very familiar way countryside girl/women in China run, especially those in northern and colder parts of China.
Playing a Chinese peasant girl is a particular study, Zhang Ziyi may have failed in subtleties here and there, but her run and walk are succeeding convincingly. When Di finally first meets face to face with her lover on the road, she quickly walks away, and that walk by Zhang Ziyi is the quintessential Chinese peasant girl's walk when under public attention or embarrassment a priceless walk.
There is an unspoken but important undercurrent in Di's relationship to her lover - she is a peasant girl but he is a town "citizen". In those days of China (1957), and still to certain degree even today, they practically belong to different classes. Di's blind but all-knowing mother once alludes Di of that to discourage Di of her love dream.
Di is illiterate, as most girls of her days are, but he is educated. This difference traditionally also amounts to a class distinction. Di clearly has a reverence and a fascination with literacy, something she and her village never have. She adores his literary voice in teaching and listens to it all the time. He hardly talks and when talking speaks little and in low voice, but through Di ears, we hear her lover's literary voice loud and clear and plenty. His literary voice and the newly built village school represent a new dimension and horizon for her, something that awakes her and draws her.
Di is a peasant girl. Girls in countryside those days don't even date, leave alone active seeking out men. Di's "freedom" love affair is way ahead of her villagers and of her time. But he is her destiny, her Home, thus ensues the saga of an extraordinary Road to Home. Di has to run, run to express and release her unbound joy of love, run to see and in presence of her lover, run to battle with the unsurmountable taboo, run to avoid facing up her class deficiencies, run to delay the inevitable encounter
But Di otherwise stays close to her basics: the vast mother earth and landscape, the changing color and hue as the sun moves, the winding dirt road, the crops, the trees, the water from the well, the loom, the cloth, the huge adobe oven, the kitchen filled with warmth of bellowing steam and rays of sun shine, the food, many kinds of food, and that big white ceramic bowl with blue flower pattern. These are Di's elements.
The story happens in the politically fateful year of 1957 when Mao launches his anti-rightist movement that causes many great suffering. Di's lover is also implicated. Such an eventful turn of fortune can be a ready drama to be played out with great effects, but instead, we only hear the village mayor saying: "these things are city folk's affair that we won't be able to understand". And of course, the poor Di has to wait a few more years before finally unites her lover.
It should be no surprise that the unfailing Zhang Yimou is again at his mastery, turning a simple and almost cliché story into such a deeply touching and moving film. What is surprising is the great performance by Zhang Ziyi, considering the fact that this is her film debut. Of course, Yimou's camera and directorship helps, lucky Ziyi.
Sadly though, this film, like many other of Zhang Yimou's, is not well received in China. The quietness, the lack of dialog, the meticulous nuance in subtlety and the full blown saturation of colors seem to have counter effect with many Chinese audience. There has been consistent complaint by audience in China that Zhang's films are made catering to foreigners' taste and curiosity. It doesn't help either that Zhang's films are always popular oversea, while many excellent domestic films by Chinese taste get no foreign recognition.
A young man returns to his home village after his fathers death. There he meets his mother in deep sorrow. He finds a picture of his parents, and starts telling the story on how they met. I saw this after seeing Crouching Tiger, Hidden dragon. It is a totally different movie, but equals in acting, photography, music and quality. This is the kind of movie and kind of story Hollywood could never make. Hollywood romantic movies looks like pure plastic after this one.
In the early 70s, I lived for 3 years in a village not very far from where the movie was filmed. My parents were sent there to be re-educated, which was a common experience for a lot of Chinese people during the Cultural Revolution. I was a student in a small school like the one in the movie. Everything in this movie was almost exactly the same as what I experienced during those 3 years. The same mountains and field, the same oil lamps and water pots, a new school house built the same way which stirred up great excitement in the village, and most of all the same type of warm people whom I have always deeply missed.
This is a movie that has a very special meaning to me. I am very glad that many of you also love it.
Simple, yet superb storytelling... a profoundly emotional experience... genuine and heartfelt... exquisite... breathtakingly beautiful...
Some movies leave you feeling dirty as you walk out of the theater, but this movie leaves you feeling clean and refreshed!
This is one drama that should be seen on the big screen, definitely.
I feel sorry for the mainstream people who missed it in the art-houses or don't know how good it is or don't know that it exists!
This film would have been a success in the big multi-plexes. I really believe that. An add campaign featuring colorful full page adds highlighting the films' critical praise and the actress Ziyi Zhang would have done the trick. The public is more sophisticated than Hollywood thinks. I'm sure significant numbers of young people would have flocked to see this film had it been released in mainstream theaters. Cinematic experiences like THE ROAD HOME are a rarity indeed.
Here in "Wo de fun qin mu qin" a man comes back to his village in the mountains for his father's funeral. There, he tells us the story of love his parents lived. That's the moment beautiful Ziyi Zhang enters the story. Her face is pretty and she has a great look. Besides the quality of the film, her face is a good reason to watch "Wo de fu qin mu qin".
I can't explain why this is such a moving film, but since this is a review I guess I'll have to try. First off, the cinematography is stunningly beautiful. No, it's not grand vistas of spectacular mountain ranges, it's just that every frame is a photographic masterpiece. I have some experience with still photography, and I think that every single frame in this film would stand on its own as a fine art photograph. (There's one little hiccup with the chronology; those who don't care about such things won't care, and those who do (like me) will readily forgive the slip.)
The story: man returns to the village of his birth to bury his father; and his mother is a irascible, stubborn old bat. Why is that so good? I think that's it: you start with one expectation, and you find out over time why she's like that. Simple really, but wonderful, told with a marvelous pace. I like to pretend I'm a tough guy, and I really resent it when people try to manipulate my emotions, but I can't hold the tears. And not because it's sad. It's joyous, wonderful, a story of lives well lived under less than optimal circumstances.
Is there some propaganda involved, considering that this is China in the beginning of the Communist era? Gosh, I don't know. There are pictures of Mao, and it's clear that without him none of this would have happened. I'm about as far from Mao as one can get, but it's not about politics, it's about people, living their lives nobly in the environment they are in.
I'm stunned that this movie is only 90 minutes, it seems much longer, and I mean that in a good way. It does so much in such a short time that it's hard to believe that it's so short. There's so much more substance in half the time of, say, "Pirates of the Caribbean: At Worlds End" that you feel there must have been something happening involving a black hole.
The first time I saw "The Road Home" I only caught about the last 30 minutes, and couldn't forget it. It really stick to your ribs. There's no movie I recommend more highly.
It is simply one of the best movies of the year. Tears streamed down my face at the end like every time I watch "It's A Wonderful Life."
While there are some similarities as a romance in the clash between rural "backwardness" vs. urban development in tightly controlled "Red" China as in the book "Waiting" by Ha Jin, there's a lot less cynicism and more universal humanity.
It isn't just Zhang's beautiful face that's captivating, but her whole body language, even how her pigtails stream behind her as she runs around the countryside in pursuit of love.
Beyond the even more circumspect romance than Jane Austen, the parent/child relationships are just as moving.
But only the opening credits are in English, making it impossible to appreciate who can take credit for what at the end.
(originally written 6/23/2001)
There doesn't seem to be much lines for the actors, with only a few scenes in where they communicate, but the emotions are all captured on their faces. The quietness of the film adds a layer of deepened emotion where you can feel Zhang's passion for this man - it doens't need to be conveyed verbally. The film is very romantic and powerful, in such a simple story, yet I was totally mesmerized by it. It also contrasts the old generation with the new, showing differences in traditions, values and the development of a new society (slightly touched upon).
For those who are a fan of romantic films,beautiful scenery and a simple story, this will not disappoint at all.
Returning home after his fathers death, Luo Changyu reflects on the deep belonging his parents shared. As he traces the past, his mother's disciplined desire towards his father plays out like therapy for the heart.
Zhang Ziyi; the actress more commonly known for her Martial arts adventures shines as the obituarist and adorable love interest of the shy Luo Changyu in this meaningful love story.
Zhang Yimou (the director) is a rare individual, its hard to believe the same mind brought us the amazing 'House of Flying Daggers'.
The film grasped the nature of love. I can feel the strong love between the father and the mother. No strong words. The action and expression had explained everything. It reminded me of A scene at the sea (a great Japanese movie directed by Takeshi Kitano). Even there were no words in ASATS because they could not speak.
No doubt ZiYi Zhang was the bright point of the movie. She successfully played a village girl who was falling in love. Thanks director YiMou Zhang for giving us such a touching movie. Unfortunately now we cannot watch such kinds of movies directed by him. His recent movies were too commercial. What a pity! A simple but powerful movie. 9/10