“I’ve been blaming you ever since Mother’s death. Without any explanation you moved away to a remote fishing village.

I thought then you were trying to avoid facing reality.
To be honest I’ve been trying to escape it as well.”

On his death-bed Kenichi, a young man writes this letter to his father.  From the film “Riding Alone for Thousands of Miles”, 2005, China, directed by Zhang Yimou 


Director Zhang Yimou

The story

Written by Zou Jingzhi, the film tells the story of Gouichi Takata, an aged Japanese father who, ever since his wife died, has not been in good terms with his son. When he learns that his son has been diagnosed as having liver cancer, he tries to see his son at the hospital – the son refuses.

The father decides to travel to Yunnan province in China in his son’s place to film a definitive performance of the “Riding Alone for Thousands of Miles“, a traditional folk opera, of which his son is a leading scholar. The father hopes that by doing so, he might finally gain the forgiveness of his son. The son dies before the father can return but pens a letter expressing his regrets and love.

“I now see that loved ones should not mask their true feelings for one another.”


The letter

“What do I want to say?
What should I say to my father?
I’m asking myself.
I deeply regret refusing to see you when you came to the hospital.
This feeling of regret torments me more than my illness.
I’ve been blaming you ever since Mother’s death.
Without any explanation you moved away to a remote fishing village.
I thought then you were trying to avoid facing reality.
To be honest I’ve been trying to escape it as well.
When you came to the hospital, I couldn’t face the distance between us.
I never expected that you would ever go to China for me.

I’ve come to realize that I’m the actor behind the mask.

I was really moved.
People have never understood my obsession with folk operas.
I’ve been drawn to them because they mirror my life.
I’ve come to realize that I’m the actor behind the mask.
I’ve tried to fool myself and everyone close to me.
My true feelings have eluded me until now.
I have not allowed myself to acknowledge them.
Father, it’s not the opera that is important.
I now see that loved ones should not mask their true feelings for one another.
I eagerly wait for your return.
Father, I want us to embrace each other once again.”

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