The Road Home (1999 film)

For other uses, see The Road Home (disambiguation).
The Road Home

Theatrical release poster
Directed by Zhang Yimou
Produced by Zhang Weiping
Zhao Yu
Screenplay by Bao Shi
Based on Remembrance
by Bao Shi
Starring Zhang Ziyi
Sun Honglei
Zheng Hao
Zhao Yulian
Narrated by Sun Honglei
Music by San Bao
Cinematography Hou Yong
Edited by Zhai Rui
Distributed by Beijing New Picture Distribution Company (HK)
Sony Pictures Classics
Release dates
  • November 5, 2000 (2000-11-05) (Japan)
  • December 14, 2000 (2000-12-14) (HK)
  • May 25, 2001 (2001-05-25) (US)
Running time
89 minutes
Country China
Language Mandarin
Box office $6,780,490

The Road Home (simplified Chinese: 我的父亲母亲; traditional Chinese: 我的父親母親; pinyin: wǒde fùqin mǔqin; literally: "My Father and Mother") is a 2000 Chinese romantic drama film directed by 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 and a young teacher falling in love, 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 (Sun Honglei) returns to his village from the city upon hearing of his father's death. His mother, Zhao Di (Zhao Yulian), 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, Luo Changyu (Zheng Hao), 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 Luo was summoned by the government to return to the city. (Several reviewers have speculated that the flashback portion of the film is set during the Anti-Rightist Campaign and that Luo's recall was for investigation and questioning.[2][3][4]) Zhao Di's heart was broken; she insisted on waiting for him in the snow and fell so ill that the villagers thought she would die. However, upon hearing news of her illness, 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 years more because 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. But when the procession sets out, 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. The mayor returns the money to the son, as no one will accept payment for doing what they consider to be an honor 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, using the textbook his father had written himself.



The film won two awards at the 2000 Berlin International Film Festival: the Jury Grand Prix (second best film) and Prize of the Ecumenical Jury.[5] The film received positive reviews, achieving a score of 89% on the film website Rotten Tomatoes.[6] Praises especially went to the film's visual style[7] and actress Zhang Ziyi's performance, which is her cinematic debut.[8][9][10]


2000 Golden Rooster Awards

2000 Hundred Flowers Awards

2000 Berlin International Film Festival

2000 Ljubljana International Film Festival

2001 Bodil Awards

2001 Sundance Film Festival

2001 Chicago Film Critics Association Awards

2001 Fajr Film Festival

2001 Florida Film Festival

See also


  1. 1 2 Elley, Derek (2000-02-16). "The Road Home Review". Variety. Retrieved 2009-01-23.
  2. Lu, Sheldon H (2007). Chinese modernity and global biopolitics: studies in literature and visual culture. University of Hawaii Press. p. 135. ISBN 978-0-8248-3177-6.
  3. Zhang Yingjin (2004). Chinese national cinema. Routledge. p. 288. ISBN 978-0-415-17290-5.
  4. Chan, Evans (2004). "Zhang Yimou's Hero and the Temptations of Fascism". Film International. 2 (2). doi:10.1386/fiin.2.2.14.
  5. International Film Festival, Berlin: IMDb, 2000.
  6. "The Road Home". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 18 July 2012.
  7. Guthmann, Edward; Morris, Wesley (2001-06-08). "FILM CLIPS / Also opening today". The San Francisco Chronicle.
  8. Holden, Stephen (2001-05-25). "Two Lives In China, With Mao Lurking". The New York Times. Retrieved 2007-06-24.
  9. Clark, Mike (2001-05-29). "Zhang finds her 'Road Home'". USA Today. Retrieved 2007-06-24.
  10. Guthmann, Edward; Morris, Wesley (2001-06-08). "'The Road Home'". The San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 2007-06-24.
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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