Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Movie Review: "Last Train Home"

A married Chinese couple live in Guangzhou and work in a clothing factory, where they live in something akin to a dormitory with shared bathrooms. Their two children live in their hometown rural village in Sichuan where they are cared for by the grandmother.

The married couple goes home once a year, on Chinese New Year, via a 1,000 mile ride on a packed train. Hence, "Last Train Home". (One thing that is not clear is why people have to travel so far to find work.)

Just like every country, everyone wants to leave the countryside and go to the city. The focus is on the children doing better than the parents, via education. "A peasant's child must study hard."

There's a funny scene at the jeans factory: "These are for export. Some jeans are huge. You can fit two people in them. The waistline is 40 inches. Have you ever seen a Chinese with a 40 inch waistline? [...] Americans are fat and tall so they need big pants."

The crowds at the train station are incredible, and the train system is so unreliable that people wait at the station for days for a chance to board one. Maybe it's because there was a camera there, but when one man who is separated from his daughters by crowd control gets upset, a riot policeman pats him on the arm gently to calm him down. You can understand why they are building so much transportation infrastructure.

Someone on the train talked about making 2000 yuan (~$300) and saving 1800! He pointed out that westerners make much more and spend all of it.


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