Another master piece directed by Zhang Yimou, the well-acclaimed Chinese movie maker. He made me weep like a baby again after I’ve watched his other movie, “The Road Home”(我的父親母親) It has been a rather similar approach in terms of his cinematography; a true depiction of the lives and environment one lives in, and telling a story as it is. What moved me was the closeness and distance of the human relationships between the characters, how the pair of Japanese father & son would act like strangers after the death of the wife/mother in the family whereas complete strangers like Mr Takata and Yang Yang can have such a tender bond over a night of getting lost in the mountainous landscape. I truly enjoyed the performance of Ken Takakura who acted as Mr Takata, his subtle expression is impactful and the last scene of the Chinese Opera performed brought sweet memories to those days when I was assisting a senior in college to film the genre, in preparation of his thesis.
The use of a vast landscape as the canvas of the film is simply brilliant in bringing out the loneliness of distanced relationships and alone-ness of human race, while the title as adapted from one of the Chinese Opera’s pieces “Riding alone for Thousands of miles” aptly depicts the difficulties and various obstacles in Mr Takata’s journey to the Chinese provinces. In fact, it can also be understood as the trials one faces in life and how we will have to fight and overcome as the protagonist in the Opera, Warrior Guan Yu did. And I must say my lecturer would be proud of me as I pointed out to my company that the Opera performed was more of a form of religious rite rather than entertainment. I was right, it is better and more accurately known as the Nuo Opera儺戲.