Last Train Home

In this Chinese entry to the 2010 Seattle International Film Festival, director Lixin Fan has chosen to document the lives of one migrant family, so as to put a face on the cultural and generational turmoil confronting China today. 130 million people go back to their villages to celebrate the New Year. This results in the largest mass migration in the history of mankind... once each year!

The congestion at the train stations is mind boggling. I am a practical soul, so I tried to imagine the logistics for mobs that have to wait, standing room only, from two to five days just to purchase tickets! What did they do, wear Depends?

Many Chinese leave their infants and toddlers with grandparents while they go to the cities to earn a living. There is a direct result of this which is multiplied by the millions who do it: These children feel abandoned and have no emotional link with their parents, nor do they respect them.

I was struck by the murky look of this film when it finally dawned on me that China's air IS that murky! If their industrial pollution can be viewed from space, it must also obscure the sun.

I always thought Communism was a cradle-to-the-grave proposition, but no, if people become ill, they have to pony up the cash for medical treatment. And much of what they earn is either spent on their children's educations or must be saved for the worker's old age. Hmmm....

I didn't come away from this one with very upbeat impressions, did I!