February 25, 2011

"A Thousand Years of Good Prayer"

This is a short/sweet/a little bitter movie about generation gap within a Chinese family: a father comes to America to visit her daughter who lives in US about 12 years and find he had to confront the "gap" between them.

I enjoyed the nice flow of the story line. The conversations jumped around different languages was amusing and how the father communicated with his neighbors and even made friend with a "foreign" lady (who had quite similar family experience) was very interesting. It was nicely done. I like the father a lot (wish I had one like that:-)). How he describes he gave name to his daughter made me tear up a little.

However, If this movie convince people that this type of problem represents most of Chinese families' problems, I would disagree. There are much worse "problems" exists in Chinese families between generations. This movie ascribes the cause of problems to external: the job, society, etc., which doubtlessly is the case, but I believe the real "Chinese" family problems are "internal", far beyond this common "human factor".

The real "Chinese" family problems come from Chinese tradition, "Tiger mother" alike, which is the lack of true love on parents side, the retrogression (not sure if this is the right word) of human nature caused by so call "culture", or "tradition". This type of parents may not necessarily "majority" but their ideas prevail within Chinese communities (both in China and oversea) and the damage it made on Chinese people is beyond repair.

I would love to see this side of stories revealed one day. It would be real dark, almost black, and I suppose many Chinese people will not like it.


  1. Yuni, I'm glad you got to watch the film. I thought the crux of the film was the internal rather than external struggle between the father's traditional Chinese upbringing and the daughter's new found freedom. The fact that in China one is expected to be silent about one's feelings, only to talk of superficial things rather than things of the heart. A huge gulf of silence separated the father from daughter, so that she never knew the truth about his life and harbored all these false assumptions about him. They parted never being able to broach that gulf, lost in a dark cloud of misunderstanding. That's what was so sad. There was never any real communication between them, just a relationship based on hollow customs and familial obligations.

  2. np, thanks. what you said was right. i overlooked this part. however, i still see this father is one of those who possess "natural" feeling toward their children. i have seen so many parents way worse than him (include my father). and simply "being silent" about one's heart not necessarily the most profound reason in chinese family gaps. the "lack" of love is the worst one, and the most latent one.

  3. I enjoyed reading your thought provoking review and NP's comment too. I wish your father had been more communicative and loving ... SIGH. That problem also exists between generations in other cultures too.

  4. Custom, culture, ethnic conventions, family tradition, and the desire to build new ones , regrettably, can all break the bonds of love, or simply serve as an excuse not to form these links of love in a family. Time Thief is right, this is a global problem. It is as old as mankind. My best.

  5. CS, thanks for stopping by.
    I fully understand this is not a "Chinese only" problem, but the severity of this problem in China probably is not recognized by many people, include Chinese people themselves. "Mentally" China still stays in agricultural civilization which still "worship" patriarchal system. And I personally believe this mental situation strengthens government's despotism more effectively than any other social and economic factors.