The Road Home (2003) Movie Script

My father died suddenly.
I only found out last night.
The mayor informed me by phone.
I couldn't believe it.
My hometown is Sanhetun,
a village in the mountains.
I left home to work in the city.
I was so busy
that I haven't been back in years.
My father was the village schoolteacher.
He taught there all his life.
I am the only child...
...the only one from our village
who went to college.
I am very worried about my mother.
I am afraid she can not
cope with this sudden change.
Come in and take a break.
I've got to get back.
Thank your boss again for me.
Thank you.
- Mother?
- Yusheng.
Mayor, Uncle Xia.
I saw the car and I knew you were back.
Come in. It's warmer inside.
Sit down.
I couldn't tell you much over the phone.
Now that you're here
I can explain everything.
For many years, your father had wanted... rebuild the schoolhouse...
...but there were always reasons
we couldn't.
He brought it up again recently,
and the village agreed.
We had the materials we needed,
but not enough money.
Your father's mind was made up.
He began travelling around,
trying to borrow money.
He went all over the county.
If he thought there was a chance,
he'd go after it.
On the last trip, on his way home...
...he ran into a heavy snowstorm.
He was stuck in the storm and he got sick.
He was too sick to be moved.
He was in bad shape when he got back,
so we took him to the hospital.
They examined him
and found that he had a heart problem.
We've known your dad all these years...
...but never knew he had a heart condition.
They tried saving him, but it was no use.
Your father then passed away.
- Where is my father now?
- In the provincial hospital morgue.
We have been waiting for you to return
to discuss this with you.
Last time I spoke with him,
he seemed fine.
He had gotten older, plus the bad storm.
At his age, it was too much for him.
It would have been hard on anyone.
The heavy snowstorm
was too much to handle.
The village intends to arrange a car
to bring your father back...
...back here to bury him in the village.
That's what we planned.
That's fine. Go ahead.
But there is a problem.
Your mother doesn't want to use a car.
She wants your father to be carried back.
What do you mean?
It's an old tradition.
We'll carry him on the road home... your father won't forget his way.
It's a superstition.
And she wants to walk with us.
- So, let's do it.
- We want to do it.
He was our village teacher.
Everyone respects him.
But our young people
have all left for the city.
They've gone away to work.
Only old people and children are left.
Due to this circumstance,
we are planning... bring your father back by tractor.
It'll take only half a day.
We would like you
to persuade your mother.
Thank you for your concern.
- I will talk it over with her.
- Good.
Where is she?
Probably at the schoolhouse.
She's been there every day since he died.
She just sits there
and doesn't listen to anyone.
She goes there whenever she has time.
- Is she okay?
- I think so.
I am only afraid...
- Is it the old schoolhouse?
- Yes.
I'll go to see her.
- Mother.
- Yusheng.
It's so cold. Let's go home, okay?
Your father passed away.
Let's go home, Mother.
We can never see him again.
Get on the bed. It's warm there.
- Yusheng.
- Yes.
Bring me my loom.
Why do you need the loom?
I want to weave something.
Weave what?
A cloth to cover your father's coffin.
Mother, don't weave it.
I'll go buy one instead.
I don't want you to buy one.
That loom is so old.
It's been broken for years.
Nobody uses it anymore.
Ask Uncle Xia to repair it.
I think you are too tired lately.
You need rest.
I have to weave the cloth for him myself.
I'll go buy one right now, okay?
No! Just bring me the loom.
The only loom left in the village
is this one of your mother's.
She's guarded it like a treasure.
She wants to repair the loom
and weave the cloth.
It seems like she's determined
to have your father carried back.
Carrying the dead is an old custom.
We have to yell
when climbing the mountains...
...crossing the river,
and passing the crossroads.
What do we say?
We tell him that this is the road home.
Everyone yells at him
so that he remembers his way home.
Uncle Xia, if we do
what my mother wishes...
...will it really be so difficult?
It is a problem, yes.
We don't have the manpower.
All our young people have left.
No one has followed this custom
since the Cultural Revolution.
I don't want her to weave the cloth.
But I don't know how to stop her.
It seems as if having father carried home
is all that matters to her now.
I know about your wishes for the funeral.
I think it won't be easy for the village.
Don't you worry about that.
Your father lived here for 40 years.
He taught many generations of kids.
He worked long hours all these years.
The villagers should pay
their last respects to him.
The mayor agrees with you.
It's just that it will be difficult.
I feel that it is the same...
...if we have him carried back
by men or by a tractor.
It is not the same.
Whatever it takes,
we have to have him carried back.
If the village doesn't help,
we will do it ourselves.
We must go to carry your father back.
Mother, take a break tonight.
I have to finish this cloth.
You seem too tired lately.
You need to rest.
You can go to sleep in your father's study.
I have to finish this cloth tonight.
This picture was taken
the year my parents got married.
My father was not from the village.
He came here to teach.
The story of my parents' courtship
is well known in the village.
Practically everyone here
has heard about it.
My mother had just turned 18.
My father was 20.
My mother told me... father arrived
by a horse-drawn carriage.
This is our new teacher.
His name is Luo, Luo Changyu.
- Is that Di? What's all the racket for?
- Nothing.
I heard they all went
to see the teacher this morning.
- Has he arrived yet?
- Yes.
Great. Our village finally got
its own teacher.
- What does he look like?
- He's a young man.
A young man can teach?
He must be talented.
- Where is he staying?
- The village council office.
Good. There is a heated bed
in the council office.
Where will he eat?
He'll eat with a different family each day.
When it's our turn,
we should make a good meal.
Di, what are you doing?
Why did you change into new clothes
just to see the teacher?
My grandmother was already blind by then.
Mother said when Grandfather died,
Grandmother cried until she went blind.
After Grandfather died, Mother was
the only one to take care of Grandmother.
Grandmother's only wish was
to find a good husband for Mother.
She had many men propose to her.
But my mother didn't like any of them.
When my father arrived,
the schoolhouse wasn't completed yet.
The mayor asked all the men
to help finish it.
According to one of our village customs,
a new building must have...
...a red cloth wrapped around its beam
for good luck.
The cloth is called the "Lucky Red Banner."
It must be woven
by the most beautiful maiden in the village.
This task, of course, fell upon my mother.
Perhaps she already had my father in mind.
The red cloth she made
was especially beautiful.
The village had two wells back then.
The old well was called the "Front Well."
The newer well was called the "Back Well."
Most people used the Back Well
since it was closer to the village.
After my father arrived,
my mother started to use the old well...
...because she could pass by the school.
Back then, when the village had
a big event like building a new house...
...each family prepared a dish...
...for the men working on the site.
My mother prepared her best dishes...
...hoping my father would eat
what she made.
In the old days, women were not allowed
to participate in many things...
...such as building a new house
or digging a new well.
Superstition had it
that women would bring bad luck.
When they built the schoolhouse,
women could only... from a distance.
- What did you make today?
- Steamed bread.
- Di, what did you make?
- I made onion cakes.
I brought rice steamed in lotus leaves.
Steamed rice is not as good
as onion cakes.
- Did you save some for your boyfriend?
- Shut up!
They just pick up any dish at random.
They don't know who made what.
I wonder who ate my dumplings.
Put them here.
You're already done with the banner?
I was going to come get it from you.
- Give it to me.
- It's okay. I saved you a trip.
This is a beautiful banner.
The school is almost finished.
The first lesson will be Chinese literature.
- Is the teacher happy with the food?
- Yes.
- Does he eat what we make?
- Yes.
Does he grab the food like you guys?
No. He's a gentleman from the city.
He is not like us.
So how does it work?
We always ask the teacher to pick first.
"In life..." Read after me.
"One must have a goal."
Let's start from the beginning.
"Reading and writing opens one's eyes.
"Writing and counting benefit one's life.
"Keep a journal faithfully.
"Know the present, know the past..."
When I was young, my mother told me
my father had a beautiful voice.
My mother is illiterate
She didn't understand the text.
But she couldn't resist my father's voice.
She went by the school
every day after that.
For most, the novelty of the new school
wore off after a while.
But not for my mother.
For 40 years, she went to listen.
It became part of her life.
"Have respect for your elders."
My mother heard that each day
after school... father walked some students home.
She started waiting beside the road,
hoping to meet my father.
"The birds sing with the beautiful sun.
"Their songs wake the beautiful flowers."
- Who is she?
- That's Zhao Di.
- Is she from the village?
- Yes.
Di, the teacher is asking about you!
- Teacher, you want some water?
- Yes.
- Let me get it for you.
- No, I can do it myself.
- Let me do it.
- I can do it, thanks.
You're the teacher, you shouldn't bother.
Let me do it.
Come on.
I can.
Di, how come you came to the Front Well?
- Tomorrow it's our turn to have you over.
- I know.
My father told me the first time
he went to my mother's house...
...she stood in the doorway.
Leaning against the door frame,
she looked like a figure in a painting.
That's the image he would never forget.
- Di, is the teacher here?
- Yes.
I could tell by his heavy footsteps.
Come in. Let me see.
My mother's eyesight is no good.
This teacher is very tall.
Sit down, please.
The food must taste good to you.
You sound like you're enjoying it.
How long have you been in our village?
About a month.
- Have you gotten used to it?
- Yes.
That's good.
- You're from the city?
- Yes, from East Gate.
How did you choose Sanhetun?
After graduation, I had nothing to do.
One day I saw someone on the street
signing people up.
I signed up without asking what it was for.
I ended up here.
- Do you regret it?
- No.
Why not?
I like it here.
- Are you married?
- No.
- Are you engaged?
- No.
Di will do it. Just sit down, please.
Do you remember this bowl?
The white and blue design?
No, I don't remember it.
- Did you eat the food brought to the site?
- Yes.
It seems Di's hard work
wasn't appreciated.
Di didn't tell me, but I knew everything.
When you were building the school,
she made all her best dishes.
She always used that bowl...
...hoping you would choose her dish.
Even I wasn't allowed to touch it.
I remember now.
You do?
No wonder the bowl seems familiar.
- You ate from this bowl?
- Yes.
What did you eat?
On the first day, I made onion cakes.
On the second,
scrambled eggs with onions on rice.
On the third day, mushroom dumplings.
What a shame, three delicious meals.
Mushroom dumplings are my favourite.
I'll make you some this afternoon.
- That's too much trouble for you.
- Not at all.
You've just finished lunch,
and now you're planning dinner.
Di, show the teacher out.
He must be very busy.
Yes, I should go.
You look pretty in that red jacket.
I remember it from the day I arrived.
Don't forget to come back for dumplings
this afternoon.
You shouldn't make the dumplings.
- Why not?
- So you won't regret it later.
- What will I regret?
- You know it yourself.
This teacher is a nice man.
But he's out of our class.
What are you talking about?
They're only dumplings.
Don't play dumb. I'm just being honest.
You'd better forget about him.
- I won't go back.
- You've got no choice.
I came to say goodbye.
Where are you going?
- Back to the city.
- What's happened?
I saw you arguing with someone.
Was that what it was about?
Who was he?
Why do you have to go back?
It's no big deal.
He just wants to ask me some questions.
- Can't he ask you questions here?
- It's not up to him.
Will you come back?
Of course!
I have classes to teach.
When will you be back?
By the 27th at the latest.
I will be back before
the school holiday starts on the 28th.
- Come in and have some dumplings.
- I can't.
I have things to do before I go.
Don't wait for me.
He's waiting for me.
Tell him to come, too.
Anyway, you have to eat.
Okay, I'll be back.
I'll wait for you.
This is for you.
It goes well with your red jacket.
I'll be waiting.
What is going on? No more classes?
- He's in some political trouble.
- What?
I don't understand it either.
Maybe he'll be back soon.
The teacher's left.
- The teacher's left?
- Yes.
- When?
- The mayor just saw him off.
My mother retraced her steps every day...
...searching back and forth.
She had to find the clip
that my father gave her.
Bowl and pot repair.
Please come in.
I charge for the nails I use.
This will cost you more than
buying a new bowl.
Just tell me how much and I'll pay you.
- Is it a family heirloom?
- No.
Did it belong to someone special?
You could say that.
I'm doing it for my daughter.
The man who used it left...
...and took my daughter's heart with him.
I want to repair it
to keep the memory alive for her.
I'll make it all perfect again.
Your daughter will have a perfect memory.
Di, what are you doing?
Nothing. I need some water.
Two times two equals four.
Two times three equals six.
Two times four equals eight.
Two times five equals ten.
Two times six equals twelve.
Two times seven equals fourteen.
Two times eight equals sixteen.
Two times nine equals eighteen.
Three times three equals nine.
Three times four equals twelve.
Three times five equals fifteen.
Three times six equals eighteen.
Three times seven equals twenty-one.
Three times eight equals twenty-four.
Three times nine equals twenty-seven.
My father told my mother,
when he was teaching the kids...
...he could always look up
and see the red banner.
The banner reminded him
of my mother in her red jacket.
The mayor kept insisting
on covering the ceiling properly...
...but my father never let him.
That's why the ceiling
was never completed.
My mother sat in the classroom
for hours that day.
The door was open,
and the mayor saw her there.
He understood what it meant.
Once he knew,
the news got around the village quickly.
Back then, arranged marriages
were the norm.
Mother was the first in the village
to express her love freely.
On the day my father promised to return... mother started waiting at dawn.
She remembered his promise...
...that he would return on the 27th...
...before the school holiday began
on the 28th.
He had to be back before that.
It's so cold outside. Where have you been?
Get into bed to warm yourself up.
You're burning up! You have a fever!
I know you went to wait for the teacher.
Everyone says he's in trouble
and won't be back.
You've got to let go.
I'm going to the city to find him.
Are you crazy? You're ill!
Di! Come back!
My mother didn't make it to the city.
She fainted by the road.
Someone saw her
and got word to the mayor.
The mayor and my uncle
brought her home on a cart.
The mayor said that day
my mother's hands were like ice.
She was wrapped in a heavy blanket
on the way home.
But they couldn't get her hands warm.
I don't think it's too serious.
It's a bad chill, but she is strong.
Mayor, is the teacher coming back?
I don't know the answer.
He should have been back by now.
Maybe someone can write to him.
I don't know how to help her
if he doesn't come back.
Even one glimpse of him
would be good for her.
"Spring is here.
"It melts the snow.
"The grass turns green.
"The farmers sow.
"The oxen plough the field.
"The wild geese return.
"The frogs begin to hop..."
Di, you're awake.
You've been sleeping for two days.
Di, the teacher is back.
He came back last night.
He came straight here.
He sat with you for a long time.
Isn't it good news?
He came back for you.
"Full of energy...
"...our spirit comes alive...
"...full of new hopes...
"...full of new wishes.
"Spring is here.
"It melts the snow.
"The grass turns green.
"The farmers sow.
"The oxen plough the field.
"The wild geese return.
"The frogs begin to hop.
"Robins start to sing.
"Spring is the season to sow.
"Everything starts to grow again..."
Mr. Luo!
Luo, Di is here to see you!
Di is here!
That evening my father had to leave again.
He left the city without permission
just to see my mother.
He couldn't stand it
when he heard about my mother.
So he sneaked back.
For this disobedience,
my parents were kept apart...
...for another two years.
Someone told me
that on the day my father...
...finally returned,
my mother put on her red jacket... father's favourite...
...and stood by the road, waiting for him.
From that day on,
my father never left my mother again.
This is the story
of my father and my mother.
This road is a part of their love story.
This is a dirt road that leads
to the city from our village.
My mother had waited for my father
on this road...
...with love and trust, for many years.
So she wants to walk this road
with him for the last time.
Mr. Mayor?
- Who is it?
- It's me, Yusheng.
What is the matter, Yusheng?
- I need to see you.
- Come in.
It's cold out there.
How can I help you?
I've thought it through.
- I want to do what my mother wishes.
- Carry him back?
It's still a problem, though.
We don't have enough men, right?
How about hiring some men
from the neighbouring village?
Hiring people sounds easy...
...but how do we pay them?
Just tell me how many men we need.
For a short distance, about 10.
But this is a long trip.
I think we need about 16.
We need two shifts. That's 32 men.
And we'll need others to carry chairs... people can rest along the way.
That comes to about 35, 36 men.
How much per person?
100 Yuan each should do.
35, 36 people.
How much in total?
That's 3,500 or 3,600 Yuan.
We need to buy cigarettes.
And wine, too.
Got to ward off the cold.
We'll also need a little extra
for emergency use.
Let me think.
Around 4,000 Yuan.
Here's 5,000 Yuan.
- Is that enough?
- It's plenty.
Mrs. Luo, come and see Mr. Luo.
Please don't cry.
Don't let tears fall on him.
Mr. Luo, we are going back to the village.
That day, over 100 people
came to the ceremony.
The mayor told me
they were my father's students.
They heard about his death
and they all came back.
Many came from other towns.
Some drove from the city.
The mayor said
some came from as far as Guangzhou.
Some tried to come but didn't make it
in time because of the snowstorm.
I didn't recognise most of them.
Many of them were older than me.
I don't know when my father taught them.
I didn't know how to address them.
Anyway, as the mayor said,
they were all my father's students.
Take the money back.
Why? Didn't you pay them?
They won't take it...
...not even the ones we hired.
No one wants the money.
Take it back.
At my mother's request... father was buried
next to the old well.
The village has running water now.
No one draws water from the well now.
My mother said that my father
can overlook the school from here.
She asks to be buried next to him
when the time arrives.
After my father's funeral...
...the mayor came to talk
about rebuilding the school.
He said the city had granted funds...
...and the village families
had donated money.
He said we must fulfil my father's wishes.
Yusheng, give me your money.
Mayor, we've saved over the years.
Take it to rebuild the school.
I can't take it. You need it for yourself.
With my husband gone,
you have to take it.
All right, I'll take it then.
You are the first,
but surely not the last to help.
I am leaving tomorrow.
Mother has asked me
to go to the schoolhouse one last time.
Mother said the next time I come back,
the school we know will be gone.
Your father helped build this school.
He taught here for so many years.
He spent more time here than at home.
Changyu, can you hear me?
The mayor will rebuild the school.
They'll build a tall and wonderful school...
...just as you wished.
A great school.
Your wish will be fulfilled.
They will start building next spring.
You won't have to worry anymore.
When the school is completed...
...I will hang a Lucky Red Banner there.
You may rest in peace now.
You know your father.
He was a sincere man.
He always wanted you
to become a teacher... take over for him.
You went to a teachers' college...
...but you never taught a day of class.
If you could have taught,
even for one day... could have fulfilled his dream.
Then you could have gone back to your life.
There's no teacher now... sound of children reading aloud.
The mayor said a new teacher
was on the way.
No other teacher's voice is
as good as your father's.
His voice was so crisp.
After 40 years,
I still can't get enough of that voice.
I can still hear it.
Mother, I've made up my mind.
You should come to the city with me.
No, thank you.
I won't leave your father.
I don't want to leave you here by yourself.
Don't worry about me.
I can take care of myself.
- How are you doing in the city?
- Very well.
Don't worry about me.
Do you have girlfriend?
Let's not talk about it.
You're not young anymore.
Don't be so picky.
Listen to me. Find yourself a nice girl...
...and bring her home to meet me.
Your father's gone.
He was worried about you.
Children leave home eventually.
We couldn't keep you here forever.
As parents...
...we never stopped worrying.
Your father missed you so much.
You were always in his thoughts.
Please don't cry.
It's not good for your health.
With your father gone,
it's hard not to feel lonely.
I know.
You must work hard
and make a good life for yourself.
"One must respect social norms.
"Have respect for your elders.
"In life, one must have a goal.
"One must learn to read and write.
"Writing and counting benefit one's life.
"Keep a journal faithfully.
"Know the present, know the past.
"Spring, summer, fall and winter...
"...east, west, south, north...
" everything there is a purpose."
I gathered the students early that morning.
I said I would teach them for one day.
The mayor asked me why.
I said it was for my mother
as well as for my father.
I stood in my father's place...
...where he stood for so many years.
I felt sure he could hear my voice
and those of the students.
The book I am using
is the same one he used that first day.
It is not the official textbook.
It is a book he wrote himself.
"One must learn to read and write.
"Keep a journal faithfully.
"Know the present, know the past.
"Spring, summer, fall, winter...
"...east, west, south, north...
" everything there is a purpose.
"Have respect for your elders."