Nashan naren nagou / Postmen in the Mountains

Nashan naren nagou / Postmen in the Mountains (1999)

The dog is probably suing for not getting on the cover

Director: Huo Jianqi
Writers: Si Wu
Date: 1999

Genre: Drama
Description: Postmen in the mountains, passing on the family job, father-son relationship, real understanding, relationships with people, a smart dog

Cast: Ten Rujun, Liu Ye, Chen Hao

Crew of note: Music by Wang Xiaofeng, Cinematography by Zhao Lei

Runtime: 93 mins.
Color: Color

The father is asked to retire by the local civil authorities in charge of the mail. It’s the only means of communication with the outside world for most of the towns and villages he visits, so he takes great pride and values his work immensely. Because of this, he can only trust his son to continue his work. The son accompanies his father on one last trip, before finally taking over his father’s life’s work.

Beautiful, simple, heartwarming; seemingly about nothing but the film has so much more to say than the conversations reveal. There is more to this life than meets the eye, and though the pictures are certainly beautiful, you must also prick up your ears and listen, and understand the two postmens’ expressions. This is an incredibly real movie, and in fact all of city life seems so fake and artificial compared to the lives of these characters. Punctuated by the subtle understated acting that focuses more on expressions–the welling eyes, the looks of understanding, etc–the Chinese countryside comes alive.

Well shot throughout save for some curious boomlift rising shots. Really really good music–haunting, truly Chinese, yet also modern and acts almost as a fourth voice (third = the dog’s) in many scenes. Basically, it’s another great movie about ordinary people.

It’s obvious that I enjoy films about live I will most likely never experience. What makes these films about rural life so encapsulating, so enchanting, is the atmosphere, tension, emotion, that great films are able to exude. It almost seems enough to be mesmerized by the culture, by the landscapes, the architecture, by the sounds and textures of these strange lands. But Huo also shows its people, the quiet and deep father-son relationship of these two men in particular, whose lives are so drastically different from ours and whose culture is fast disappearing. At least I get to see them on film. I hope that places like these will persist in the face of modernization.

things to take note of
The different towns, their reception of the two men, and those that the two men interact with in each place
The everyday objects scattered around, in the most important scenes

best moment
Crossing the river
The scene on the bridge + drinking water
The paper airplane

why you should watch this
I almost cried watching this and I’m not ashamed to admit it
Liu Ye’s gotten pretty famous; this is one of his first, and one of his purest, roles

rating: 8.4

Plot: B
Cast: A
Cinematography: B
Music: B+
Entertainment: B

similar movies, maybe:
Tuya de hun shi / Tuya’s Marriage
Mabei shang de fating / Courthouse on Horseback
Sanxia Haoren / Still Life