The Road Home [Wo de fu qin mu qin]
Directed by- Zhang Yimou
Genre: Drama / Romance
Produced by- Zhang Weiping,Zhao Yu
Cast- Zhang Ziyi, Sun Honglei, Zheng Hao, Zhao Yulian
Cinematography- Hou Yong
Writers: Shi Bao (novel), Shi Bao (screenplay)
“..the Road is a part of every love story”
From the outstanding Chinese filmmaker, Zhang Yimou, the Road home (1999) presents a legendary tale of homecoming. Based on Bao Shi’s novel “Remembrance”, the film won two prizes at the 2000 Berlin International Film Festival and was critically acclaimed at the Golden Rooster awards 2000.
Simple yet classic, the greatest strength of the movie is portrayed through panoramic cinematic images and lyrics. Zhang Yimou whose other masterpieces include “The Red Sorghum,” ”Raise the Red Lantern, ‘The Story of Qiu Ju”, “Not one less” and “happy times”.
Politically, we get a glimpse of difficult times in Chinese communist history, highlighting the importance of knowledge in villages and the changing world. Powerfully illustrated are the bonds of family love in the movie, focused on the role of the mother of Luo Yusheng, played by Zhang Ziyi ,as her cinematic debut.
Luo Yusheng, returns to the death of his father back home, his mother undeterred, holding on to her happy memories. The conflict of ancient and modern values is evident at the subject of funeral, that’s when the story folds into flashback of Luo’s parents and their innocent courtship. Like its characters, the plot is honest and humble, dealing with the fragility of human relationships. Problem arises when Luo’s father Changyu is called back to the city for unspecified political reasons, and Zhang ziyi, nearly dies of a fever caught waiting by the road for him to return on the day he promised. However, she represents a transgressive female character because the patriarchal Chinese society wouldn’t appreciate her overt expression of love. As critics state, the movie is more about the echoes of ideological wars in the lives of ordinary people who have only the most tenuous connections with those struggles. Also noteworthy, is that even for once the name ‘Mao Zedong’ is never mentioned.
At the visual level, Zhang Yimou chose to reverse the traditional trope; present day scenes which are shot in black and white, and memories( flashback) in color, reinforcing the ageing Zhang Ziyi’s unbreakable beautiful past in comparison with the tough present. As visible in “Hero” and “Raise the red lantern”, the use of color imagery is deliberate and symbolic. It talks of revolutionary red flags, little red books, Red Guards, and of course the red sun, which is the symbol of Chairman Mao, while the red lanterns in Raise the Red Lantern seem to reveal the sexual dominance of the patriarchal plot. The kind of romanticism associated with seasons and expression of free will with the perfect mix of Sao Bau’s background score makes it very poignant.
I rate it 4/5 mainly because of the subtlety of emotions represented through excellent camera movements and photography. Zhang Yimou being the Realist Filmmaker certainly deserves a critique. Undoubtedly, this movie recalls the eternity of hope and love beyond death. A must watch.
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