Every spring, China's cities are plunged into chaos as an astonishing 130 million migrant workers journey to their home villages for the New Year's holiday. This mass exodus is the largest human migration on the planet - an epic spectacle that reveals a country tragically caught between its rural past and industrial future.
Working over several years in classic verité style Chinese-Canadian filmmaker Lixin Fan (with the producers of the hit documentary Up the Yangtze
) travels with one couple who have embarked on this annual trek for almost two decades. Like so many of China s rural poor, Zhang Changhua and Chen Suqin left behind their two infant children for grueling factory jobs. Their daughter Qin - now a restless teenager - both bitterly resents their absence and longs for her own freedom away from school, much to the utter devastation of her parents.
Emotionally powerful and starkly beautiful, the multi-award-winning Last Train Home
's intimate observation of one fractured family sheds unprecedented light on the human cost of China's economic 'miracle'.
- Stunning new anamorphic transfer, created from HD elements
- Deleted Scenes from Guangzhou Train Station
- Travelogue: Guang'an to Shenzhen City
- U.S. Theatrical Trailer
Like Which Way Home
, the documentary that tracks impoverished Latin American kids precariously train-hopping up to America, director Lixin Fan's cinéma vérité-style documentary Last Train Home
also uses trains--this time in China--as a metaphor delineating class to promote viewer understanding of social hardship. Last Train Home
tracks the Zhang family, opening with scenes in a clothing warehouse where married couple Changhua Zhang and Chen Sugin work assiduously to support, one discovers through interview footage, their two children living over 1,000 kilometers away. Cut to a rural village, where Zhang's two kids, teenage girl Qin Zhang and her younger brother Yang, pine for the city while their elderly grandmother cares for them. This story of parents arguably forced to leave behind their two infant children serves as a microcosmic example of what is happening to 130 million migrant workers throughout China, and the film chronicles familial efforts to acquire train tickets out of the cities to celebrate the Chinese New Year rurally with relatives. Between takes filming various Zhang family members, shots of the insanely overcrowded Guangzhou train station make the documentary more politically tense, as massive crowds explode with rage and exhaustion trying to fight for tickets then board packed trains for sweaty rides home. As much as Last Train Home
chronicles the Zhang parents toiling behind sewing machines or washing their feet in the cubby they call living quarters, while their kids back home pick corn and otherwise work a small garden, the film is obviously about the larger issue surrounding split families and lack of income among China's rural working poor. The film is beautifully shot, maintaining its respect and sensitivity towards its subjects throughout, though it's careful not to glamorize with slick scenic footage what is far from a glamorous cultural problem. Heated familial arguments break out, as Qin decides against her parents' will to forge ahead with an urban warehouse career of her own, and one may come away with a sense of despondence for the overwhelming amount of difficulty the documentary's subjects experience daily. But like any of the finest sociopolitical films, Last Train Home
presents a gray scale between the black and white of its topical coverage, with several charming and funny moments, proving that the resiliency of the Zhang family can, too, act as stand-in for how millions of others undoubtedly roll with the punches. --Trinie Dalton