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ROAD HOME, THE

SYNOPSIS:
Luo Yusheng (Sun Honglei) returns to his village from the city for the funeral of his father Luo Changyu (Zheng Hao); his mother Zhao Di (Zhao Yuelin) insists her husband's coffin be carried along the road that leads to the old well - the road on which as a young man, he had come back illicitly to see her when they were courting. During the preparations of the elaborate funeral plans, Yusheng is reminded of the story of the romance between his parents, begun when his father arrived as the new teacher, and his mother was just 17 (Zhang Ziyi).

"Shot in expansive Cinemascope, The Road Home is exotic and exquisite on the screen, the unfamiliar Chinese outback providing an enormous backdrop for what is a simple, sweet love story told in flashback. But as the flashback is the bulk of the film, Zhang Yimou rightly opts to tell it in colour, while the top and tail of the present is shot in grainy black and white. This effectively underscores his romantic approach, which he sometimes fails to keep in check and it slips into schmaltz, as at the end. San Bao has obviously taken his cue from the images for the score, which is as big and as wide as the screen, a rich orchestral work that may be better suited to a larger scale drama. Still, for the two lovers, their romance was a big deal, under some threat from tradition and the institutional rigours of the education system, which punished them with a two year separation for Changyu's illicit visit to his girl; this is the understated political statement. The film tells its story well, although I was a little frustrated with some of the seemingly careless editing in a couple of wordless sequences showing the beautiful young Di (Ziyi) roaming the fields. But reservations aside, the tone, mood and pace of The Road Home is a welcome and refreshing change from Western films, and a refreshing item on the first menu of Asian films presented in a season of five by Columbia TriStar under the Silk Screen banner."
Andrew L. Urban

"There are no ornate sets or special effects, just a sweet, haunting love story that impacts by its very simplicity. Zhang Yimou's The Road Home has a gentle beauty, as it draws us into an uncluttered world where tradition, respect and love are paramount. Yimou contrasts the harsh reality of the present by the effective use of grainy black and white, while the tale of the lovers' meeting is unfolded in rich colour. Cinematically glorious, with indelible scenes of autumn colours, melting snow and wind-kissed fields, the film's emotional impact is enhanced by San Bao's seductive score, whose haunting theme recurs throughout. It's the small things that move us – the loss of a valued hairclip, the meticulous preparation of food cooked with love. The love story is recounted as a fable – we don't get to know the characters very well, but the perceptions of love, longing and hope are plain to see in any language. Reflecting the importance of family, The Road Home takes us on a symbolic journey to where we belong. A poem set to images and music, its sentiments are as complex as the story is simple."
Louise Keller

"A new film from Zhang Yimou, arguably China’s greatest living director, is always something to look forward to – and this one is no exception. With The Road Home, Zhang has created a gentle and beautiful tale of love and politics in post-revolutionary China. As in his other work, the political message of the film is delivered obliquely (for obvious reasons) but nonetheless effectively. Despite its historical setting, The Road Home is relevant to China - and indeed many nations - today. The film unfolds at a deliberate pace, allowing the characters room to grow before events begin to overtake them. Simple acts, like the way lunch is served, take on immense significance. The cinematography is outstanding, with both the landscape and the faces of the characters captured in striking detail and beauty. In particular, the final sequence in the film is amazing – it’s one I’ll remember for a long time. Zhang Ziyi as Zhao Di is a revelation. Looking like a younger Gong Li, she radiates a quite dignity and an indomitable spirit. Her performance gives the film heart. Zheng Hao as Luo Changyu is solid but restrained, as his role as a schoolmaster dictates. Special mention also to Zhao Yuelin as the old Zhao Di, who you’d swear was the same person. The Road Home is a work of intensity, passion and hope – quite a remarkable combination. The film won a Silver Bear at the 2000 Berlin Film Festival; and it was no fluke. If you’re a discerning filmgoer, The Road Home should top your list of films to see."
David Edwards

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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 2
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 1

See Andrew L. Urban's feature on
SILK SCREEN

ROAD HOME, THE (PG)
Wo de fu qin mu qin
(China)

CAST: Zhang Ziyi, Sun Honglei, Zheng Hao, Zhao Yuelin, Li Bin, Chang Guifa, Sung Wencheng

DIRECTOR: Zhang Yimou

PRODUCER:Zhao Yu

SCRIPT: Bao Shi

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Hou Yong

EDITOR:Zhai Ru

MUSIC: San Bao

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Cao Jiuping

RUNNING TIME: 89 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Columbia TriStar

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: July 6, 2000

Language: Mandarin with subtitles

VIDEO DISTRIBUTOR: Columbia TriStar Home Entertainment

VIDEO RELEASE: January 10, 2001







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