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The Road Home
Directed by Zhang Yimou
Produced by Zhang Weiping
Zhao Yu
Written by Bao Shi (novel & screenplay)
Starring Zhang Ziyi
Sun Honglei
Zheng Hao
Zhao Yulian
Music by San Bao
Cinematography Hou Yong
Editing by Zhai Rui
Distributed by China:
Beijing New Picture Distribution Company
United States:
Sony Pictures Classics
Release date(s) Japan:
November 5, 2000
Hong Kong:
December 14, 2000
United States:
May 25, 2001
Running time 100 min
Language Mandarin

The Road Home (simplified Chinese: 我的父亲母亲traditional Chinese: 我的父親母親pinyin: wǒde fùqīn mǔqīn; literally "My Father and Mother") is a 1999 Chinese film directed by the Zhang Yimou. It also marked the cinematic debut of the Chinese actress Zhang Ziyi. The Road Home was written by author Bao Shi, who adapted the screenplay from his novel, Remembrance.[1]

The film was shot immediately after Zhang's previous film, Not One Less, and was released to strong reviews in China in fall 1999.[1]



The Road Home is the story of a country girl (Zhang Ziyi) and a young teacher falling in love during the 1958 Anti-Rightist Movement and the teacher's death many years later that brings their son back from the big city for the funeral.

The film begins in black and white in present day China when the son returns to his village from the city upon hearing of his father's death. His mother, Zhao Di, insists upon following the tradition of carrying the coffin back to their remote village by foot so that her husband's spirit will remember its way home. As the narrator, the son recounts the story of his parents' courtship, so famous that it has gained the status of a legend in the village. It is here the bleak black and white turns into vivid colors as the story shifts to the past.

His father came to the village as the teacher. Immediately, Zhao Di (Zhang Ziyi) became infatuated with him and he with her. Thus began a courtship which consisted mostly of the exchange of looks and glances between the two. Unfortunately, the courtship was interrupted when the teacher was summoned by the government, probably because he was deemed as a "Rightist" by the new communist government. Zhao Di lost her heart and fell gravely ill, so ill that the villagers thought she would die. However, upon hearing the news, the teacher was able to sneak back to the village and Zhao Di, in tears, welcomed the sight of her beloved. Still, their love would not be consummated for a few additional years as the teacher was kept away from the village as punishment for having left his assignment in the city without permission.

Returning to the present day, and black and white, the son realizes how important this ritual of carrying the coffin back to village is to his mother, Zhao Di, and he agrees to make all necessary arrangements to fulfill her wish. He is told by the mayor of the village that it might be difficult to find enough porters to carry the father home, as there are few young able men left in the village. The mayor and the son reach an agreement on the price to be paid to the porters. Upon setting out on the way home, more than 100 people show up to help carry home the casket of the man who was their teacher through various generations in the village. Others who would have come to help were unable to do so because of the heavy snowstorm. The mayor returns the money to the son, as no one will accept payment for doing what they consider to be an honour rather than a task.

On the morning of the day the son leaves to return to his job in the city, he fulfills his father's dream and teaches a class in the old schoolhouse that was central to his parents having fallen in love.

Main cast

  • Zhang Ziyi - Zhao Di as a young woman, the film's protagonist
  • Zheng Hao - Luo Changyu, a young teacher sent from the city, Zhao Di's husband and the narrator's father
  • Zhao Yulian - Zhao Di as an old woman
  • Sun Honglei - Luo Yusheng, Zhao Di and Luo Changyu's grown son and the film's narrator, he returns to his home village in order to bury his father
  • Li Bin - Grandmother, Zhao Di's elderly grandmother


The film won two prizes at the 2000 Berlin International Film Festival: the Jury Grand Prix (second best film) and Prize of the Ecumenical Jury.[2] The film received positive reviews, achieving a score of 88% on the film website Rotten Tomatoes. Praises especially went to the film's visual style[3] and actress Zhang Ziyi's performance, which is her cinematic debut.[4][5][6]



See also


  1. ^ a b Elley, Derek (2000-02-16). "The Road Home Review". Variety. Retrieved 2009-01-23.  
  2. ^ Berlin International Film Festival 2000
  3. ^ [1]
  4. ^ Holden, Stephen (2001-05-25). "Two Lives In China, With Mao Lurking". The New York Times. Retrieved 2007-06-24.  
  5. ^ Clark, Mike (2001-05-29). "Zhang finds her 'Road Home'". USA Today. Retrieved 2007-06-24.  
  6. ^ Guthmann, Edward & Morris, Wesley (2001-06-08). "'The Road Home'". The San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 2007-06-24.  

External links

Preceded by
Postmen in the Mountains
Golden Rooster for Best Picture
tied with Roaring Across the Horizon and Fatal Decision
Succeeded by
Mao Zedong, 1925


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