Riding Alone for Thousands of Miles

Watch Riding Alone for Thousands of Miles

  • PG
  • 2005
  • 1 hr 49 min
  • 7.3  (5,591)
  • 73

In the 2005 Japanese drama film Riding Alone for Thousands of Miles, a father and son's strained relationship is explored through two parallel journeys. Directed by celebrated filmmaker Zhang Yimou, the movie stars Ken Takakura, Kiichi Nakai, and Shinobu Terajima. The story revolves around a stubborn and traditional man, Gou-ichi Takata (played by Takakura), who lives in a small fishing village in Japan. He is a master of Noh, a traditional form of Japanese theatre, and is known for playing male roles. Takata's estranged son, Ken-ichi, resides in China and is a theatre director. Despite several attempts, Takata hasn't been able to reconcile with his son.

The movie opens with the news that Ken-ichi is in a Chinese prison and is terminally ill. Takata decides to go to China to see his son and fulfill his wish to film a famous Chinese opera called "Riding Alone for Thousands of Miles." The opera is about a father's journey to find his son and bring him back home. It is a story that Takata finds relatable, and he wishes to use this opportunity to connect with his son before it's too late.

However, when he reaches China, Takata discovers that his son refuses to see him. Desperate to keep his promise, Takata decides to complete the task of filming the opera himself. However, his inability to speak Mandarin and his lack of knowledge of Chinese traditions make the task impossible. Takata sets out on a journey to find the opera's original actor, Li Jiamin (played by Nakai), a stubborn, reclusive, and bitter man living in rural China.

Takata's journey is a soul-searching experience, and the director uses this premise to explore the themes of estrangement, cultural differences, and father-son relationships. While on the road, Takata encounters a young woman named Jasmine (played by Terajima), who offers to accompany him. Despite having different backgrounds and cultures, the two forge an unlikely friendship.

As the journey progresses, Takata realizes that Li Jiamin's reasons for having forsaken the opera are deep and personal. He learns of the man's relationship with his own son and sees how their troubled past translates into Li's current situation. In a way, Li is a reflection of Takata, and the symbolic journey to find him turns into an emotional discovery of Takata's own self.

The movie's cinematography is one of its most striking aspects, and Zhang Yimou's signature style is evident throughout. The scenic beauty of China's countryside is breathtakingly captured, and the movie's pacing allows room for quiet, introspective moments. The performances are also excellent, with Takakura and Nakai's chemistry onscreen being particularly noteworthy.

Overall, Riding Alone for Thousands of Miles is a heart-warming, poignant, and thought-provoking movie that deals with complex emotions in a sensitive and nuanced manner. It is a story that transcends cultural and geographical boundaries and showcases the power of human connection in the face of adversity.

Riding Alone for Thousands of Miles is a 2005 drama with a runtime of 1 hour and 49 minutes. It has received mostly positive reviews from critics and viewers, who have given it an IMDb score of 7.3 and a MetaScore of 73.

Riding Alone for Thousands of Miles
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  • Release Date
  • MPAA Rating
  • Runtime
    1 hr 49 min
  • Language
  • IMDB Rating
    7.3  (5,591)
  • Metascore