A young boy's quest for education
Muffin-man | West Virginia | 02/21/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Going to school with Dad on My Back is a sheer delight. Unlike recent imported Chinese films that feature kung fu or action fights (Jet Li comes to mind), this gem tells the story of a young boy's life in a poor village in rural China.
Unable to afford to send both his children to school (because in China, school is not free), a widowed father spins a water urn and the handle points to his 7 year old son Shiwa instead of his older sister.He wins the opportunity for education merely by a game of chance. Shiwa then goes off to school and his sister stays behind, toiling in the fields.
Shiwa is reluntant to go to school at first, after witnessing the drowning of a classmate while crossing a river, but his father presses him on.Years go by and he excells.He wins the national chemistry competition when he is in middle school, and is accepted to the university. By this time, his father grows ill and he must make a decision on whether to go off to school or stay and care for his father, since his sister has married and lives in another village.
What strikes me about the film, besides its visual beauty, is the warm,caring relationship that Shiwa has with his older sister. In American films, the brothers and sisters often are shown as rivals, insulting each other, and being disrepectful to each other and their parents. In foreign films, the relationships are portrayed in a more mature fashion, as in the case of this film.
Although is older sister wasn't lucky in the spin of the urn and thus could not continue going to school, she supports and really loves her little brother and tries to help him succeed in any way possible. She even gets married by arrangement to a richer family so that her father has money to pay the tution of her little brother. He loves her in return, and mentions her in his speech after winning the chemistry award to the village.
I also was moved by the families in the village who live in poverty, but try desperately to give their children an education, by scraping enough money together to pay the teachers to teach their children in hope of a better life. In the USA, we have free universal education, and so many parents and children do not take advantage of it. In fact, the lowest income children in our schools do the worst academically in many districts, whereas children of poor immigrants from Asia leap at the chance in this country to better educate themselves and to move out of poverty. This film shows just how much education means to not just the peasant farmer of Shiwa, but in fact the whole village, who come together to celebrate his educational achievements.
This film is based on a true story which makes the whole viewing experience that more meaningful."
A real gem, see this movie
Koreen | United States | 07/17/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
""Going to School With Dad on My Back" seems to be a relatively little known film outside of China. This is quite unfortunate and hopefully will change, as this is a very good movie, making the list of my favorite 20 films on Chinese culture.
Based on a true story, this very good film accurately portrays the difficulties many children from poor families in rural areas in China have to complete a meaningful education. Most Americans do not realize that so-called public schools in China, both in urban and rural areas, are not really free. Parents need to pay fees for their children to go to school. Many poor parents, as is shown in this movie, do not have enough income for their child or all of their children to go to school. Contrary to popular belief outside of China, in many villages parents are allowed to have more than one child.
In "Going to School with Dad on My Back," the father of a poor family can only and just barely afford for one of his two children, his son or his daughter to go to school. As shown in the beginning of the film, the son is chosen by sheer chance to go to school during that school year. Even getting to school is potentially dangerous, as he has to cross a river to get there. He eventually becomes successful in school, but almost has to quit his schooling because of the continued burden of having to pay fees to attend a public school. This is a burden actually faced by millions of poor families in China.
I highly recommend "Going to School With Dad on My Back." American students have it so easy by comparison with the Chinese students portrayed in this very good, realistic film. This film, in my opinion, deserves 4 and a half stars."