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NEW Last Train Home (DVD)

1.0 out of 5 stars 1 customer review

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Product Details

  • Language: Cantonese Chinese
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (US and Canada This DVD will probably NOT be viewable in other countries. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • MPAA Rating: UNRATED
  • Average Customer Review: 1.0 out of 5 stars 1 customer review
  • ASIN: B004DMIJ0E
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #30,377 in DVD (See Top 100 in DVD)
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Product Description

A couple embarks on a journey home for Chinese new year along with 130 million other migrant workers, to reunite with their children and struggle for a future. Their unseen story plays out as China soars towards being a world superpower.

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD Verified Purchase
To date I am disappointed that I have not yet received my DVD. It has been over one month. More than anything is the fact the payment was withdrawn one month ago.
End result: they have my money and I have an empty pocket.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.4 out of 5 stars 83 reviews
26 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Tone of Dickens and a Startling Window into Milions of Chinese Families Feb. 22 2011
By David Crumm - Published on
Format: DVD
As the world watches mass movements turn long-established structures upside down, we all should be watching the vast sea of families across China that are torn by that great nation's 20th century history, followed by razor-edged economic realities today. "Last Train Home" was shot over several years of painstaking filmmaking by Chinese-Canadian filmmaker Lixin Fan, who earlier worked on the superb "Up the Yangtze (Subtitled)." The film captures major turning points in the lives of a teen-aged girl and her Mom and Dad, a couple making a deal with the economic devil in China to sacrifice their lives in sweatshops to build a brighter future for their children.

Those turning points cluster around the major New Year's festival in China, each year, when 130 million migrants jam rail lines and boats to gather in their family homes. The film's introduction points out that this may now represent the world's greatest annual migration. And, in the first year, we do see the family's modest New Year's feast and fireworks.

Roger Ebert, in his review highly recommending this film, made the point that this story might have been penned by Charles Dickens in the 19th century. That's an apt comparison as we watch lives ground up in sweatshops and children virtually orphaned into a world of predatory forces. I won't spoil the film by detailing too much of what unfolds in their lives, but the major eruption involves the teen-age daughter who supposedly was the bright hope for the family's future. The daughter is pictured on the cover of the DVD, wistfully looking out the window of a train.

There's a scene late in the film when teen-aged laborers at a bar and grill are allowed to stop for a moment to watch the opening of the 2008 Olympics on a big-screen TV. You'll never forget the juxtaposition of these young faces, caught in the midst of their labor, listening to an Olympics narrator crow: "Friends from around the world will marvel at the splendid heritage and the richness of Chinese culture."

Ebert and I are not alone on this. When it was briefly in theatrical release in 2010, the film also received strong recommendations coast to coast, including the New York Times. Want to understand a bit more about China? See this film!
30 of 33 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An inside look at migrant life. March 2 2011
By suburban dissident - Published on
Format: DVD
There are so many facets that make this a great documentary. The level of access that Lixin Fan gains to the process of migration that so many in China experience - moving from village to cities for work and then shuttling home for Spring Festival and then back again - and how it plays out in one family from Sichuan. The hardships, concerns, social and economic pressures, and hopes that hang by a thread that animate the migrant worker are on vivid display. For anyone wanting to know more of the on the ground, nitty-gritty way of life for a significant portion of China's population, this is a fantastic resource.

There are three other points worth noting. (1) Viewers should be warned that there are scenes where the tensions and pressures this family experiences boil over in shocking and very raw ways. This is not kiddy stuff. (2) There are some stunning, absolutely gorgeous, scene shots in this film. However, they tend to create an overly idyllic, romanticized vision of the Chinese countryside. Keep in mind that the pollution of the cities is not unknown in the villages and life is hard enough that people feel compelled to leave. The beautiful depictions of the countryside in this film can tend to make you forget that. (3) A fabulous benefit of this film is the events it captures. Seeing responses to and the effects of the snowstorm of 2008, the Beijing Olympics, and the financial crisis all show up and help display how such natural and unnatural "upheavals" filter down to individuals.
21 of 23 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A stark and moving documentary of one family of migrant workers in modern China Nov. 11 2010
By Whitt Patrick Pond - Published on
Format: DVD
The Last Train Home is a 2009 documentary directed by Lixin Fan and produced by Daniel Cross and Mila Aung-Thwin of EyeSteelFilm. (Note: the literal translation of the Chinese title is "Homeward Train", a more accurate description in my opinion). It documents one migrant worker family - the Zhangs - but it presents the dilemmas faced by some 130 million migrant workers in current day China.

The core of the Zhang's dilemma is that Changhua and his wife, Suqin, have migrated from their rural village to work in garment industry jobs available in the city, leaving their two children behind in the care of the children's grandmother, Tingsui. The Zhangs only see their children once a year, when they and millions of other migrant workers make their annual trek home to rural villages all over China for the traditional Chinese New Year celebration.

In the Zhangs case, they have been doing this for sixteen years, ever since their two children, Qin (daughter) and Yang (son) were infants, all in the hope of providing a better life and future for their children. But it is not without a considerable toll. In addition to the long hours of labor, the tiny cramped quarters the Zhangs must live in to save money, the complete lack of anything like sick leave or other benefits we take for granted, there is the problem that they've become strangers to their own children, who to their dismay they discover not only do not understand why they have chosen the life they have, are, in the case of their 16-year-old daughter Qin, rejecting the future they have worked so hard for so long to give them. For it is revealed that Qin has not only dropped out of school, she has become a migrant worker herself because she is tired of living in a rural village and wants to go to the city where life is exciting and she can "have some fun".

Each of the family members has their own form of moving eloquence. The subtitles render the meaning of the Chinese words, but it is their faces and body language that convey the deep felt emotions that make their lives and problems universal. The father, Changhua, is a man who tends to silences, unable most of the time to confront his situation with words, letting his intuitive wife, Suqin, speak both to and for him; a moving display of two people truly bound together. The scene near the end of the film where they make the difficult decision for Suqin to stay in the village with their remaining child Yang while Changhua continues to labor in the city leaves you feeling the entire weight of the lives bearing down on them. The grandmother, Tingsui, is also moving as she comments on what is happening to the family with a mix of understanding and resignation that comes from having lived through three generations of change. And Qin, in her increasingly rebellious and frustrated outburts, leaves you sympathizing with her even while knowing that she is making a ghastly mistake that not only hurts her family but in the end hurts herself by denying her everything her parents had hoped for her.

Highly recommended as a starkly beautiful if troubling slice of life documentary, for anyone with an interest in the social conditions of modern China in transition.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Largest HUMAN migration.....130 million trying to get home. March 5 2011
By Official NetNanuNanu - Published on
Format: DVD
Last Train Home, 2009, refers to "the largest human migration." This is a shocking view of peasants working in the city, trying to get home, once a year from their factory jobs in the city to their provinces.

China's 130 millions migrants are not crowding, pushing, stressing, waiting for a train to anyplace exciting, nor a sports occasion, nor something entertaining...... but to a simple place called home.

Home is where they left their children to be raised by grandparents, home is where they are allowed to go but once per year, the Chinese New Year. Home is where they can only make phone calls to, but cannot intervene any other way to check on their children living without them. And this is today, not 50 years ago, but today!

This makes me, we get to come home every night to raise our children, but can you imagine coming home once a year for a short time? These people took trains, boats, buses on their journey home, to see the children they do not really know anymore. They stressed out trying to get a train ticket on a seriously overcrowded train, carrying their bags with them.

The saddest part - The mother and father who worked in the factory have a son and early teen daughter who has left school, the camera follows her to the streetlife, working in the nightclubs. She is persuaded to come home with parents, and a physical fight ensues between father and daughter. Daughter's issues are like any young child who felt abandoned by parents, anger, resentment and rebellion are typical.

As the documentary follows the family, we, the viewer are left with questions but no answers narrated. How long is their time off, knowing travel delays could keep them on the road for a week. What are they carrying in their large bags? were all factories shut down? how much money did they make? what happened if there were no grandparents to care for their children?

This film makes you appreciate your commute to work and you get to come home at the end of the day. ....Rizzo
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Moving Story May 12 2011
By Andrea R. Nagy - Published on
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
It's a documentary that feels like a drama, until the main character turns toward the camera and says something like "I hate my life! Go ahead and film that! I don't care!" Then we realize that it's not acting; it's her real dilemma. The wave of migration from Chinese villages to cities has lifted millions of peasants out of poverty, but it has also strained families, who can see each other only once a year. Much of this dilemma could be resolved if the Chinese government would lift the oppressive hukou system and allow citizens to legally change their residence from the village to the city.

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