The Road Home

Director: Zhang Yimou
Screenwriters: Bao Shi

Institute History

  • 2001 Sundance Film Festival


Zhang Yimou has woven together past and present into this lush, yet understated, film about love and family. Luo Yusheng, a businessman, comes home to his native village for his father's funeral. He finds his grieving mother sitting in vigil at the deserted school where his father taught for 40 years. In accord with custom, she plans for him to be carried from the hospital back to the village "so he won't forget the way."

As the mother begins to weave the funeral cloth for her husband's coffin, the scene dissolves to the past, and Luo Yusheng reminisces about his parent's courtship. In opulent, nearly silent color tableaux, we watch their first meeting, the kindling of their romance, the yearning and obsession of love, and the torment his mother suffers during their brief time apart when his father is sent away for "mistakes" and "retraining." Through the son's memories, the essence of life in the Chinese countryside is revealed: respect for learning, sense of community, and importance of tradition in the family. These values, now seen through the prism of contemporary China, combine in the powerful final scenes of The Road Home.

As in Not One Less, which appeared at the Sundance Film Festival last year, Zhang Yimou's latest work departs from his usual highly dramatic style. With a cast composed of mostly nonprofessional actors, The Road Home is treated with simplicity, immediacy, and carefully composed cinematography. With individual emotions as its focus, the film stays close to another Chinese tradition—poetic narrative.

— Nicole Guillemet

Screening Details

Sundance Film Festival Awards


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