Last Train Home
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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
Top Customer Reviews
Those turning points cluster around the major New Year's festival in China, each year, when 130 million migrants jam rail lines and boats to gather in their family homes. The film's introduction points out that this may now represent the world's greatest annual migration. And, in the first year, we do see the family's modest New Year's feast and fireworks.
Roger Ebert, in his review highly recommending this film, made the point that this story might have been penned by Charles Dickens in the 19th century. That's an apt comparison as we watch lives ground up in sweatshops and children virtually orphaned into a world of predatory forces. I won't spoil the film by detailing too much of what unfolds in their lives, but the major eruption involves the teen-age daughter who supposedly was the bright hope for the family's future. The daughter is pictured on the cover of the DVD, wistfully looking out the window of a train.Read more ›
There are three other points worth noting. (1) Viewers should be warned that there are scenes where the tensions and pressures this family experiences boil over in shocking and very raw ways. This is not kiddy stuff. (2) There are some stunning, absolutely gorgeous, scene shots in this film. However, they tend to create an overly idyllic, romanticized vision of the Chinese countryside. Keep in mind that the pollution of the cities is not unknown in the villages and life is hard enough that people feel compelled to leave. The beautiful depictions of the countryside in this film can tend to make you forget that. (3) A fabulous benefit of this film is the events it captures. Seeing responses to and the effects of the snowstorm of 2008, the Beijing Olympics, and the financial crisis all show up and help display how such natural and unnatural "upheavals" filter down to individuals.
The core of the Zhang's dilemma is that Changhua and his wife, Suqin, have migrated from their rural village to work in garment industry jobs available in the city, leaving their two children behind in the care of the children's grandmother, Tingsui. The Zhangs only see their children once a year, when they and millions of other migrant workers make their annual trek home to rural villages all over China for the traditional Chinese New Year celebration.
In the Zhangs case, they have been doing this for sixteen years, ever since their two children, Qin (daughter) and Yang (son) were infants, all in the hope of providing a better life and future for their children. But it is not without a considerable toll. In addition to the long hours of labor, the tiny cramped quarters the Zhangs must live in to save money, the complete lack of anything like sick leave or other benefits we take for granted, there is the problem that they've become strangers to their own children, who to their dismay they discover not only do not understand why they have chosen the life they have, are, in the case of their 16-year-old daughter Qin, rejecting the future they have worked so hard for so long to give them.Read more ›
China's 130 millions migrants are not crowding, pushing, stressing, waiting for a train to anyplace exciting, nor a sports occasion, nor something entertaining...... but to a simple place called home.
Home is where they left their children to be raised by grandparents, home is where they are allowed to go but once per year, the Chinese New Year. Home is where they can only make phone calls to, but cannot intervene any other way to check on their children living without them. And this is today, not 50 years ago, but today!
This makes me think.....wow, we get to come home every night to raise our children, but can you imagine coming home once a year for a short time? These people took trains, boats, buses on their journey home, to see the children they do not really know anymore. They stressed out trying to get a train ticket on a seriously overcrowded train, carrying their bags with them.
The saddest part - The mother and father who worked in the factory have a son and early teen daughter who has left school, the camera follows her to the streetlife, working in the nightclubs. She is persuaded to come home with parents, and a physical fight ensues between father and daughter. Daughter's issues are like any young child who felt abandoned by parents, anger, resentment and rebellion are typical.
As the documentary follows the family, we, the viewer are left with questions but no answers narrated. How long is their time off, knowing travel delays could keep them on the road for a week. What are they carrying in their large bags?Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
It's good to learn about other cultures. The Chinese seen to have a more difficult life than we do in the United States, it the movie depicted an average family.Published 1 month ago by John W. Lepisto
Interesting insight on the yearly pilgrimage of the Chinese migrant worker.Published 2 months ago by William K
After watching this you understand why China had to slow down the birth rate, so they could build there infrastructure to accommodate there population .Published 2 months ago by Johnz
It was a bit painful to watch but offers a rare view into one families life that will make you think and offer perspective on life in general.Published 2 months ago by Amazon Customer