Last Train Home is a a documentary by Lixin Fan based on a husband and wife that are Chinese migrant workers. The story told revolves around how China is made up of a high percentage of migrant workers that travel home once a year to celebrate the Chinese New Year with their families. They leave their familiies to go get better work and to send money home. Many leave their children behind to be taken care of by other family members.
The beginning of the film shows the struggle that occurs each year when millions of Chinese workers try to catch a train to go back home for the Chinese New Year. The themes of family and culture are prevalent through the whole film. Chinese New Year is a cultural tradition in China that is spent with family. The migrant workers in the film look forward to this visit once a year so that they can see their children and their elders. The film depicts the reality of how Chinese families may be affected as a result of migrant work. This couple face a tremendous disconnect with their eldest daughter who was raised by her grandmother. The grandmother enforced education so that her granddaughter could be successful. The idea was that if she became successful her parents hard work would be worth it and in turn she couold take care of them later in their old age. I was able to make the connection with the idea of filial piety because obedience towards ones parents and elders is of the utmost importance in Chinese culture. The film shows the struggle between a daughtert and her parents and the disconnect that occurs because she feels abandoned due to their migrant work.
The documentary ends in 2008 with the world financial crisis. Many factories are shut down and many migrant workers aree forced to move back home.
This documentary was an eye opener to the struggles and the dynamics that occur within a Chinese family. I can use this film in my class to talk about culture, migrant work, industries & cheap labor (factory work) amongst many other topics and ideas that connect with my curriculum.