Wednesday, June 15, 2011

I guess it's more of a figurative title

Picking up on a theme we started with the last's confession time! I am a sucker for good movie titles. This explains why I've watched The Ghost and the Darkness more than once. I'm not really sure what exactly entails a good movie title. It has to hit me in just the right way. This is exactly what happened with Riding Alone for Thousands of Miles.

I originally came across this movie while researching Zhang Yimou, director of big hits like Hero and House of Flying Daggers. I had seen and enjoyed both of those films so I figured there was a good chance of Riding Alone being of equally high quality. I was disappointed in unexpected ways.

Don't get me wrong, the movie was quite good. The story focuses on Gouichi Takata, a man estranged from his son for several years. The first scene of the film depicts Gouichi learning the news that his son is in the hospital, dying of liver cancer. Gouichi's daughter-in-law gives him a sample of the film his son was creating about the Chinese Nuo opera Riding Alone for Thousands of Miles, hence the title. Gouichi decides to complete the filming of the opera to earn the forgiveness of his son.

So we have a standard journey of self-discovery, right? Well, sort of. Gouichi doesn't do much riding alone and although he travels thousands of miles in the relative comfort of modern transportation. Instead Gouichi embarks on a journey fraught with...well, inconvenient setbacks, such as language barriers, arrested actors, prison regulations, other people's estranged sons, other people's estranged sons running away, and so forth. In the end, Gouichi realizes that he needed to forgive himself as much as he needed his son's forgiveness.

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