"It would be hard to name another director --
Kubrick, perhaps -- who has created so many masterpieces or
near-masterpieces with so few lifetime films. Zhang Yimou started with
richly sensual tales (Red Sorghum, Ju Dou, Raise the Red Lantern), moved
to sociopolitical epics (To Live, The Story of Qui Ju), and then here,
in 1999, presented what might be called a "domestic epic."
A fairly young middle-aged engineer from the city
returns to the north China village of his birth right after his father's
death. His mother insists that all the old rituals be observed,
including hand-carrying the body the many miles back from the city
hospital morgue to the village so the deceased will know "the road
The man relates the story of how his parents -- an
18-year-old farm girl and a somewhat older teacher sent to the village
by the government -- met and fell in love in 1955, and decides that his
mother's wishes must be honored.
Most of the movie centers on the earlier love story.
It's a shame the more recent "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" made it to
these shores first, because Ziyi Zhang, the spitfire young girl of the
action flick, is much more incredible in her debut in this movie, aged
The simplicity and transparency of her
emotions, the incredible beauty of her face, are captivating. There is
no sex or nudity, not even a kiss, in this intensely romantic film; and
the landscape, seasons, and light -- the sound of vegetables being
chopped, the chanting of children's voices in school -- are as much
stars as Ziyi.
"A gorgeous and moving
piece of work."
List Price: US $19.95
I - Suitable
for all audiences (roughly equal to an MPPA rating of
"G" or "PG") Films rated Category I
contain nothing most parents will consider offensive for
their children to see or hear. Nudity, drug use, explicit
language, violence and adult situations are largely
absent, and if present are seen only briefly and at a