The Road Home
"The story of a man’s parents’ courtship unfolds when he comes home to bury his father." (text taken from Amazon)
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holding on to tradition
A young man returns from the city for his father's funeral. Much of the film is a flashback of his parent's courting. Mom has turned the burial process into an extension of her lifelong love story. Mom wants some traditional practices that have not been observed for half a century to be followed for dad's burial. This includes physically carrying his body back from the hospital to the village, miles over mountainous terrain and shouting "this is the road home" the whole way. Dad was the village teacher and highly respected. Between mom's tenacious wishes and the respect that the village has for dad, enough old men (young folks, like the son, have left the area) are mustered for this effort. Mom had hoped that her son would take over as the village teacher. The final scene shows the son organizing and teaching a class using the script from his father's original lesson plan book, the final homage to his parents' lifelong love story.
Highlights include views of the vast countryside. The openness is a stark contrast to city conditions.
The traditional theme in this movie dramatically contrasts with some of Peter Hessler's observations from Country Driving: "nobody has today's China figured out" (p. 47). Hessler was describing the confusion that has ensued from the joint upheavals of the Cultural Revolution and industrialization on today's Chinese society. The Road Home stands as a contrast, showing some older village folk holding onto a lifestyle that has endured for generations but is currently waning.
What is the contrast between the U.S. and China when it comes to the social upheaval and changes that industrialization and now technologization have brought?
At first glance it was hard to imagine how this movie about rural Chinese life and culture could possibly hold relevance for my inner city middle school students. However, universal themes about conflicting intergenerational aspirations ring clear. I would use the video to focus primarily on the conflicting aspirations theme and secondarily weave in aspects of cultural context.
This film introduced a human element to what I need to look for when we get to China. Previously, I had been trying to get a handle on the large picture. China is a vast country with many different regions and a formidable history. The Road Home provided a human dynamic to how that history influenced a fictional family in today's China.
A strong value to this film is that it personifies traditional Chinese values in mom. The film (or excerpts from it) could be used in class to demonstrate how traditional values and practices continue to influence Chinese life, values to which the son eventually kowtows.
This film presents the conflict between tradition and modernity set in the backdrop of a love story. Liner notes mention that the parents' marriage was noteworthy because it was not an arranged marriage and the first love match in their village. It's interesting how traditional mom has become after the untraditional start of her relationship.
The Road Home
The Road Home is a movie about a young man who is called home when his father passes away. He finds that his mother wants to follow a tradition, which has not been honored for many years, of carrying the coffin home on foot. The theory of the tradition is that the dead will remember the way home if they are returned on foot. The son decides to follow his mother’s wishes and gains an appreciation and understanding of his parents lives and relationship along the way. A good portion of the film is a flashback to the courtship of his father ( a young teacher who has moved to the country from the city) and his mother ( a local country girl who is smitten with the new teacher). The film has a touching story and beautiful cinematography. It celebrates both the romance of the young man’s parents and his reverence for them. I enjoyed the film and would highly recommend it.
The Road Home
The Road Home tells the story of Luo Yusheng’s parents after his father passes away. Through the movie we learn that Yusheng’s parents met in 1958 during Mao’s Cultural Revolution in rural China. The story covers 40 years of their lives and into the present day. In the classroom this film would be a way to show rural life in China from 1958 to present, how school was taught during that time, how the marriages were arranged, how the government kept the couple apart for two years, some of the older traditions of China that were observed, but are not observed in modern China. Because of students need to read dialog as the follow the movie I am not sure this would be a good film for my class. I have several low readers and they would be lost. Over all I would recommend this film to History teachers.
A Story of Love and Determination
This story is an interesting account of a man who returns to his hometown to attend his father's funeral. Upon returning home, his mother has one wish for him - that he will get a group of men to help him carry his father's coffin back to his remote village so that his father's spirit will never forget "the road home". The father also had one wish for the son who returned and that was that he would teach a lesson in the school where he had taught and met his mother many years earlier.
The meeting of his parents, the love they had for each other, the determination to keep that love alive and the devotion they had for each other is retold by the son.
This movie would be appropriate for high school.
Review By Patricia Koch
Review By Patricia Koch
Setting: the Chinese village of Sanhetun in 1958 and present time
Summary: This black and white movie opens with businessman Luo Yusheng returning home for his father’s funeral. His father, Luo Changyu, was a much admired school teacher who worked in the village for 40 years. The father’s body lies in the hospital morgue while funeral plans are being made by his wife and son. A complication arises when his widow, Zhao Di, decides she wants her husband’s body carried home by the villagers, an old custom. This is a problem because many of the villagers have left to work in the cities, and there is a lack of manpower for the task. The son tries to convince his mother to use an automobile, but she is adamant. She then explains the importance of this tradition to her and we are taken back to 1958, to a color movie of Luo Yusheng arriving as the new schoolmaster and an 18 year old Zhao Di falling in love.
How to use this DVD in the classroom: This movie explains a funeral custom, and touches on many other customs that were important 40 years ago. Women had their marriages arranged, when a new school was built, a red cloth was added for good luck and this cloth was made by the most beautiful maiden of the village. The women made a meal for all those who helped build the school, and the families took turns inviting the schoolmaster for meals after the school year began.
Students will see what a classroom looked like in the 1958 during Mao’s cultural revolution. Students will see a typical country home of the time, especially the kitchen since Zhao Di spent many hours cooking meals to attract Luo Yusheng’s attention.
I think this movie is suitable for grades 6-12.
The Road Home
This was a story about a mother who loses her husband. Her son comes home to help with his burial and does not understand why she wants certain traditions carried through. It brings understanding to old traditions and how easily they get lost in a new world. It has great scenery.
This would be a good film to show elementary students to get a small glimpse of some Chinese culture
Review of The Road Home
Review by Mary Albers
The movie begins with a somber, black-and-white landscape. Luo Yusheng is returning from the city to his childhood village to take care of the burial arrangements for his father. He is somewhat taken aback when his grief-stricken mother is adamant about having a traditional village burial for his father. The idea involves carrying the body by foot from its location at a hospital in another village to their village. The tradition honors the belief that a body returned this way will never forget the way home. Yusheng realizes that young men capable of such a feat are scares in the village; it is in the middle of winter; and the financial cost to hire the carriers would be considerable.
As Yusheng watches his mother weave the funeral cloth, he reflects on his parents' courtship. The movie itself changes to color, and the love story unfolds for the duration of the film. In an age and place when arranged marriages are the norm, the relationship between an eighteen-year-old peasant girl and a new village schoolteacher becomes a story of simple love and devotion that stands the test of time. The rural dirt road to/from the village becomes significant; in the end, Yusheng understands how important it is to respect his mother's wishes for the traditional "way home."
This movie was a simple, but quite convincing and endearing, love story. Both the acting and the cinematography were superb. I found it notable that throughout the entire movie there were no sensual or even kissing scenes, yet the essence of love was so powerful.
Recommended ages: all
Review of The Road Home
Review by Tim Jekel
The Road Home is a great film for audiences who enjoy beautifully rich photography. The story hinges on a love relationship between a peasant girl from the mountains and a young teacher who has come to the village to teach at the new school.
The visual texture of the film is the strength, as the story is simple yet compelling. The device of the film is to portray the present day in drab black and white, and to portray the past in rich colors and vibrant landscapes. The political troubles of China's past are presented as a nuisance that keeps lovers apart, nothing more. LIfe in the remote mountain hamlet goes on as it always has.
This film is appropriate viewing for all ages and could be used in class to portray rural life idealized. It is probably too slow-moving to be shown in its entirety in class.