150 of 150 people found the following review helpful
Format: VHS Tape
Clean is the autumn wind,
Splendid is the autumn moon,
The blown leaves are heaped and scattered,
The ice-cold raven starts from its roost
Dreaming of you-when shall I see you again?
On this night sorrow fills my heart.
-Li Po (701-762)
Chinese Poet, "Verses"
In a mesmerizing story of love and loss based on Bao Shi's novel: "Rememberance," you will find two hearts. A teacher wanting to give his knowledge to the next generation and a farm girl wanting to share her very soul with the man she loves. This is about how in the winter of a life, the summer is remembered and celebrated.
From the very start of this movie, it will draw you into the intimacy of the most private thoughts of the characters. There are thoughts about life, death, love, loss and loneliness. The contrast of the black-and-white present with the ecstatic color flashback scenes of the past are so sharp, it is almost emotionally overwhelming. Snow drifts across the frozen earth and there are scenes of the bitter cold.
The story is set around the life of a schoolhouse built when two people fall in love. As they age, the schoolhouse also ages and when businessman Luo Yusheng's (Sun Honglei) father dies, the schoolhouse is ready to be rebuilt. He leaves the city and returns to the snowy path leading to the mountain village of Sanhetun in Northern China.
Luo Changyu (Zheng Hao) helped to build the schoolhouse and taught there for almost his entire life. After getting caught in a snow storm, his heart condition is revealed and he is unable to continue raising money for this project. He dies never seeing his dream of the new schoolhouse come true.
Luo Yusheng finds his mother Zhao Di (Zhao Yuelin plays the older Di) weeping at the school. She finally tells her son of her plans to carry her husband back in a coffin on foot. She doesn't want to use a car and so he must employ people from the surrounding villages. As her son takes care of the details, she weaves a funeral cloth for the casket. We are reminded later of why this means so much to her as we think of her innocent face peering through the red threads used to create the cloth hung in the schoolhouse.
The story of the romance between 18-year-old Zhao Di (Zhang Ziyi from Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon plays the young Di) and Luo Changyu is the focus of the movie. They are perhaps in love from the moment their eyes meet. In a world of arranged marriages, this freedom to love is unique. Di has her heart set on Luo from the minute she sees him. She pursues him like an shy animal hunting in the forest. She views him from afar and slowly works her way into his heart. Her pink coat floating between golden leaves as she runs, her anxious heart captured by her gaze.
Each day as the school is built, she brings a dish for him and hopes that he will taste something she has cooked for him. Then as he teaches, she can't resist the sound of his voice. She has to be near him.
When he has to leave to be questioned for political reasons, she has just made mushroom dumplings and so wants him to taste them. While the story is simple, the emotions are complex. You know what the characters are thinking even before they have spoken. You feel their hearts, imagine it is your breath seeping into the cold air like steam or your hands making the mushroom dumplings.
Your heart runs with her to find Luo. And then you cry when the bowl breaks because you feel the intense longing Di feels. You live this story with her, you see love through her eyes, you know she would walk barefoot in the snow if she could just find Luo.
As she waits for Luo to return, we know she is completely in love. She tells him she will wait for him and he promises to return on the 27th. When he fails to return, Di feels she has lost everything unless she goes to find the man she loves.
You will want to cry because this movie is so incredibly beautiful. It is beautiful in its simplicity. Director Zhang Yimou has made one of the most beautiful movies you will ever see. The music by Bao San fills any space you would possible have to draw a breath and escape from being absolutely captured by every scene.
I will gladly read subtitles for a movie this exquisite. This is perhaps the only perfect movie ever made. If you only saw one movie in your life, this should be it. I feel I can hardly describe this movie to you. There are hardly words to tell you how this movie absolutely enchanted me. 100 stars would not be enough.
Like fresh water drawn from the depths of a well, this movie is all consuming in how it refreshes your spirit. It is a drink from the clearest mountain stream. It is pure in its deepest emotions of hope and longing and rich beyond material possessions in the beauty of love.
This movie sets your senses on fire. You hear the crispest of sounds, the "splosh" of water as it is poured back into the well, fresh snow crunching underfoot and the sizzle of food in a wok set over a fire. Your vision is in complete bliss as an aesthetic awareness of nature swirls around you in pictures and sounds in a rural Chinese setting.
Completely Charming in every way.
~The Rebecca Review
197 of 202 people found the following review helpful
on September 30, 2001
Format: DVDVerified Purchase
Eclipsing any romantic comedy or drama from Hollywood in the last 30 years, The Road Home achieves so much by doing very little. Master filmmaker Zhang Yimou successfully captures what it's really like to fall in love for the first time through his use of cinematography (sumptuous as always), unparalleled attention to detail, and, as always, a super strong cast (spearheaded by relative newcomer, the beautiful Zhang Ziyi). Unlike most romance movies, there is no love-making in this film. There is no kissing. The characters show their love through little things that we often take for granted: preparing food, giving small yet meaningful gifts, and other gestures. Like most of Zhang Yimou's films, there is relatively little music, however, the music that is there is perfect. It rises to the occasion when needed and dies down when not.
All of the elements of this film work together like clockwork...better than clockwork. It manages to get its message across more than western romances through uncomparable use of setting and shot framing, costume and make-up, lighting (with some brilliantly-back lit shots of the actors), and figure behavior.
Now about the DVD. This is a film whose setting was meant to be seen only in widescreen. The picture holds up well both in sun-lit outdoor conditions and slightly darker indoor scenes. The voices are set at a nice level and when the score hits its high note, the sound is heavenly...even through a plain Dolby Surround system.
Plain and simple, this is a film which should not be passed up.
45 of 45 people found the following review helpful
on June 14, 2001
Last night I was given the opportunity of a private screening of this film. I am not a major movie fanatic, and am jaded by lackluster supposed Hollywood "blockbusters". I also usually shy away from foriegn films with subtitles, rarely giving them a chance - therefore I came into this screening a skeptic. Let me tell you I was more than pleasantly surprised - I was captivated and moved. I was touched by the simplicity and innocent beauty of the story - and mesmerized by the goregous cinematography that did not rely on in-your-face effects but on tried and true, carefully planned blocking/framing that is as subtle as it is powerful.
This simple love story cut straight to the quick of what true love is really about and caused me to look at my own relationships, appreciating them more, realizing what things in life are truly important, and how today's trivial "problems" are not usually meaningful when it comes to the big picture.
I encourage you to see this film if given the opportunity. Don't be fooled by it's seemingly simple message - I believe you too will feel it's depth and appreciate it's beauty.
24 of 24 people found the following review helpful
on December 6, 2001
"The Road Home" is made by my favorite foreign director around today! I don't count Bergman because he just writes now. But Zhang Yimou, the director of this film, always manages to put such beauty into his films. Probably best known for films like "Not One Less", "Shanghai Traid", "Raise the Red Lantern", & "To Live". "The Road Home" follows in his tradition of making powerful, beautiful films.
I've seen about 60 films this year, and I know that's not a lot when compared to how many critics see. But, I think it's a pretty large amount when compared to the amount that the average movie fan goes to see. From everything I've seen this year, nothing has been able to express the passion of this film! No film has been as tender, poignant, & embarcive as this. I hate to admit this, for it's not really manly, but, I was misty by the end of the film. I've not seen a film that could do that to me in a long time.
Many bash this film saying, there's no story. It doesn't move. There's no point to it. How wrong they are. Of course there's a story to the film. I was watching something all that time lol. It's a very innocent, simple story that captivates it's audience. A young man, Yusheng (Honglei Sun) goes back home after hearing about the death of his father. A local school teacher, who helped build the very same school where he worked. His mother is grief-stricken, understandablely. There's an old tradition that after one dies, one must be brought back to where they lived. Only they must be brought back by foot! Other's must carry the coffin so the person's soul will remember how to get back home. Yusheng mother, will not give in. She demands that the townspeople follow the old tradition. Afterwards, Yunsheng starts thinking about his mother and father, he sees a picture of them taken the day of their marriage. It makes him think about the story of how they met. And, this is where the film starts to take off. Granted, it sounds simple, but, please don't dismiss it. Just think of "The Bicycle Thief". It takes a simple story, and does something with it, many films, no matter how complex their story-line may be can do. "The Road Home" is the same way. It may sound simple, but, give it a chance, trust me, you'll be impressed.
I really, really love this movie. Everything about it seems to fall together in perfect pieces. The music by Bao San is charming. It hits all the romantic and dramatic spots it needed to. The script based on the book "Remembrance" written by Shi Bao, as is the script, is truly wonderful. It carries such heart with it. It makes us care about the characters so much. We can't help but get drawn into their lives. The film did more in 89 minutes then any Hollywood film I saw this year! I know, many people dislike having to read the sub-titles on these type of films, but, please, make an effort to see this one. I think this film will stay with me for a long,long time.
p.s.- This film has already won and been nominated for many awards including; a Sundance Film Festival Award, a Bodil Awards, and a Berlin International Film Festival Award.
19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
on June 10, 2001
A man comes home after his father died. His mother refuses to give up the old custom of burial and he has to convince the people in the village to do it. He does it because he realizes his parent's was the perfect love and it is this love story that is told in this stunning movie.
When a new teacher arrives in the traditional village the prettiest girl falls in love and she tries to atract the teacher to her within the boundaries of the Chinese traditions. She always goes to the road to see him come back with his pupils and tries to have a conversation. When the new school is built she hopes he will select the disches she had prepared for the communal feast.
When he is away in town, for a long time, hinting at some political difficulties, she goes to the road every day, rain or shine, until finally he comes back.And then she accepts him, without asking what he has done, but simply content with him being there again, in her home.
What makes this simple tale so outstanding is the way the stunningly beautiful actress Ziyi Zang and the camera/director act like one body. It is so natural, so beautiful, particularly in the setting of the landscapes of rural China that words fail to describe it to the full extent.
One is so captured that the loss of language for those like me who do not understand Chinese having to rely on the subtitles is not a problem at all. The subtle acting and the fine body language underscores every pointy being made.
There is only one thing to do; go out and see it ( probably many times).
19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
on November 8, 2001
What Zhang Yimou can do with a hundred grand and a beautiful woman and a camera and landscape is uncanny. Hollywood filmmakers MUST cringe in envy when they watch movies such as The Road Home, because in their high-budget bliss they nor their actors cannot do what Zhang and his cast often do: offer real blood and real tears nakedly.
The majority of Chinese students in China I have spoken to who have seen The Road Home expressed nothing short of disgust for the movie, which I do not find surprising, given their general affinity for all things Arnold. It took hundreds of millions of dollars and Leonardo DiCaprio to convince young people in the Mainland that the complexities of love can be overcome by will alone. So when a low-budget (by American standards) movie is released about a young woman, a schoolhouse in Northern China, a pair of school teachers, and a funeral march - all of which remind them only of things that have become taboo, things they'd like to forget ever occurred - they dismiss it passionately.
Meanwhile, grown men like myself are reduced to tears at the reminder that love can be so torturous, and no less complex in the countryside than in New York City. I am left with two distinct images from that movie: the pottery fixer rambling from village to village in the cold, fixing Di's bowl with spit, staples, and ties; and Di frantically pursuing horse and carriage departing the town. There was never such longing in the world; you never ran like this.
16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on October 17, 2002
...Without question, at the heart of the film is a monumental yet simple story of true love in the purest sense, and of the devotion which renders that love eternal. But the film transcends even that, and within the greater context indicates the impact of the past upon the present, which is summed up in a single line from the film: "Know the past, know the present." And know, too, that the love portrayed in this story is the kind of love that is abiding, and that which sustains all that makes life worth living. It's a veritable journey of the soul; one that will touch you deeply and linger in your memory long after the screen has gone dark.
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.
16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on May 31, 2001
This is the best movie i have ever seen in my life.
Zang ziyi is the most beautiful and cute girl in the world.
I dont know the words to describe this movie.
U must see this if u r a fan of Zang ziyi.
She is better in this movie that in Crouchingtiger.
Very sorry ... i am poor in english.
She was fantastic.. amazing..
U will cry when u see this 'the road home'. I bet u.
15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on July 16, 2003
Format: DVDVerified Purchase
Everything is fast these days, Life itself is very fast, these days. I wish we can just sit down peacefully and enjoy a moment's quite elegance. And this is what this movie is. You can't call it slow or boring. That would be disrespectful. Or, I guess you didn't get it. The movie starts in Black and White with a very simple premise. An old woman's determined request to have her dead husband brought home on foot through the road that has been such a part of their lives, so his soul will always know the road home. Simple enough? Actually it turns into a tall order because it is in the dead of winter and there's isn't enough able bodied people to lug the coffin around. But this is just a footnote of the movie. The movie is really about true love that is delicate and unrelenting. It is a classic Zhang Yimou movie. You can tell it is one of his even without seeing his name in the credits. It's like looking at a child and knowing who his parents are. Which is a good thing. It is gorgeous to look at. The setting is photographed beautifully and carefully detailed in every shot. The same attention is also given to the actors, specially Zhang Ziyi. Gorgeous scenery, beautiful actors, a simple moving story and there you have it. You can't help but enjoy this movie.
14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
The Road Home is best meant for the big screen. We get a taste of beautiful fall countryside and winter snow; this cinematography is special. What is ironic is that the parts of the movie in present time are black and white, while the past is in vivid color. There isn't a lot of dialogue, and the subtitles are very easy to read.
A man is summoned back home to North China because his father has died. He listens carefully to follow the wishes of his mother whose devotion is to bury him in exact tradition. She settles for nothing less. There is a need to hire younger men to carry the body. Determined, she wants his body carried through the journey on the road that was part of their love affair. It is so he "won't forget his way home."
Then, in backflash, we learn the love story when a beautiful young girl, Di, who sets her eye on a schoolteacher who arrives from the city. He helps build the school, the women each cook a dish for the workers, and she tries to get his attention by hopes that he picks her food on the lunch table. Di follows him through the countryside as he walks the children home. She draws water from the well close to the school to get a glimpse of him.
Then, abruptly, he is called away to the city for political questioning. He promises to come home and it is two years that they have been apart.
The Road Home is on Time magazine's 100 best films. Zhang Yimou also directed other award winning movies, Red Sorghum, Ju Dou and Raise the Red Lanturn, Note One Less, To Live, etc.
This is a tender, clean love story. .....Rizzo