The Road Home Review
The Road Home was a heartwarming movie. Throughout the film, the concepts of guanxi, burial ritual, social hierarchy of china, roles and relationships, gift giving, traditional family roles, and the urbanization of China. These concepts gave us a greater understanding of China, both traditionally and in modern times.
We could see in this movie that guanxi was a huge part of Chinese culture. We saw this the most with the young girl trying to charm the young teacher. Because they had no guanxi, she couldn't just walk to up to him and flirt with him. She had to wait for the perfect time to sneer up on him and make it seem like their meeting was just a strange coincidence. One day she finally walked past him and dropped a basket, and from then on was able to start a Guanxi with him. Once e initial Guanxi was made, sphe was then able to approach him more often, like remind him that he was supposed to eat at her house, and inviting him over to eat again. The teacher then tried to reciprocate this Guanxi by giving her a hairpin. Throughout this movie, we can see that Guanxi plays a key role in the relationships of Chinese people.
Another concept which also appeared in the film was the traditional burial ritual of China. Even though no one in the town had practiced the full burial rituals for a few decades, the old mother was determined to have a traditional burial for her husband. She played her role well by being the key mourner and person that was most sad about the death. She also knew more about the traditional rites than the men. Everyone in the town agreed because the teacher was well respected and had a high social status among the people. His funeral rite included the young men of the village carrying his casket back home, though the cold winter, so that the father's spirit would not forget the way home. Thei was important for the liminal phase of a spirit leaving its body. If the sprit was unfamiliar with its surroundings, it might become evil and full of bad chi. But because the people of the village were careful in helping the teacher get accustomed to the afterlife, they alive intend the problem of him being angry or haunting them. From this film we can clearly see the importance of burial ritual in the minds of Chinese people.
Social hierarchy of china was shown clearly in the film. The people in the village all did not know how to read or write, so they were on a lower level on the social totem pole than the teacher was. When the teacher tried to go get water so he could see the girl, he was forbidden by another man in the village. Because he was a learned man, he was above doing manual labour like the rest of the men in the village. The other people in the village also respected him because of his knowledge and the fact that he could teach their children how to read and write. Also, when the young man came to eat at the young woman's house, the grandma could sense that the girl was trying to flirt with the young man. The grandma did not approve of this, because she knew that the teacher was in a much higher social class than them, and that people from different social classes shouldn't usually get married. Even though the couple seemd to defy social norms, this film still gave us a special look on the social hierarchy of traditional China.
The concept of relationships changing depending on our societal role was also shown in the film. I think that the best example of this was of the young girl, contrasted in the two different times. As a young girl, she obeyed her grandma, but was carefree otherwise. She often mingled with the other single girls in the village to gossip about the men in the village. Also, she would pine away in the forests, trying to find the teacher or waiting for him to come back. Then, when her role changed to a mother and wife, her relationships with others changed. Now she was stubborn and told the other people in the village what to do, such as carry the father back home. Also she insisted in making a a new red cloth for her husband. With the transformation of the young girl, we can see that in Chinese culture depending on your role in society, you also have different relationships with others.
Another concept that we discussed in class that was also portrayed in the film was that of gift giving. We saw this most with the exchanges between the young teacher and young girl. When the young girl made food for the workers that were making the school, she hoped that the teacher would take it, because he gift carried her essence on it. By aorta king of her food, he would then somehow be able to make a connection with her. Also, the young teacher gave the girl a hairpin. This hairpin represented their guanxi and strengthened their bond. When she lost the hairpin, she was devastated because it represented their relationship and his essence, so when she lost it she essentially lost him. Also, when she was a girl and for his funeral she made a fine red piece of cloth for her husband. She made it as fine as she could, because it represented the good feelings that she had for him and their relationship. This movie clearly showed how gift giving was an important part of Chinese relationships and culture.
In this film, the traditional Chinese family roles that we discussed in class were also shown in this movie. At the bringing of the movie, we could see that all the young men in the village were chosen to build the school, while the young women were chosen to make food for the men. These separate roles show how men and women had different tasks in society. Also, when the teacher came to visit the young girl made the food for him and for her elderly mother. She also was the one who went to get water every day. This shows that women in ancient Chinese society were often put to housework, while men did manual labour, or in the case of the teacher men could do more specialised jobs such as be a teacher. We also could, see that men could be repairmen, like of porcelain bowls. This movie truly gave us an in-depth view of traditional family roles in china.
From the reading, we also learned about the modern urbanisation of China, which was also shown in the film. At the beginning of the film, we could see that the village was full of older people. This is because most of the young people in the village had gone to the cities to work, where there was more opportunities to make money. Also, because of the one child policy, the teacher and his wife could only have one son. This was probably true for the rest of the village as well, meaning that there were many old people in the village but few young people to take care of them. We could also see that because technology such as cars, many of the ancient tradition as such as the ritual fl carrying a body back home were forgotten, in favour of just driving the body Ina car. This film truly gave us a unique perspective on the recent urbanisation of modern china.
This film, The Road Home, gave us a unique perspective on traditional and postmodern China. Besides being an entertaining love story, this film also showed us many aspects of Chinese culture, many of which we discussed already in class, such as guanxi, burial ritual, social hierarchy of china, roles and relationships, gift giving, traditional family roles, and the urbanisation of China. Seeing these concepts in context in this film truly gave us a deeper and more complete understanding of Chinese culture.
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