Three brilliant films that show the highs and lows of parenting, Eastern style

Three brilliant films that show the highs and lows of parenting, Eastern style

A story telling style that hits me where it hurts

When Pixar’s short Bao, a touching story of an Asian mother dealing with Empty Nest Syndrome, came out last year, I read an article that it had confused many Westerners. Someone called it the most confusing 10 minutes of my life!

But the three wonderfully choreographed films below illustrate to me the complexity of great story telling in a beautifully visual way that harbours the emotion we all feel in our own relationships, making them real and from the heart.

Emply Nest Syndrome, East vs West

Whether you are a parent or have had a parent, surely we can all get down with the sadness of your children leaving the nest? On top of that, surely we can empathise that in a culture that had a one-child policy for 36 years, it is even worse? It seems that in some cases the cultural divide is too wide to transcend that unique situation.

This got me thinking about the universal traits of storytelling. 

The worldwide struggle of parenting and how it is culturally represented in our creative thoughts and media. 

Mother Knows Best

This piece of creative storytelling set in one scene captures the unique complexity and pain of the parent-child relationship beautifully.

The almost patriarchal son, in what I assume is a single-parent household, telling his mother patronisingly what the latest tech innovations are.

The tension between them is broken by the realisation of his selfishness followed by the unconditionally loving removal of the bones from his food for the little boy that he is.

The Generation Gap

It led me to remember this wonderful piece from earlier in the year about a rural Chinese grandfather trying to understand what Peppa Pig is. The generational chasm between him and his modern, city-living son is represented so wonderfully in the scene when the grandfather’s Peppa is revealed. 

The film is a delight and raises more than a few smiles. The overall narrative journey takes him asking his own ‘analogue' social network what Peppa is and not getting the right answers; the absolute look of dumbfounded wonderment of what he created; the almost literal definition of Chinese whispers in film terms. The pure joy of discovering what modern life is like and the amusement of him using his phone in the cinema.

The film beautifully captures the incredible disparity between rural China and the fast-living, modern life that is a recent development in China’s fast-moving modern history. 

I absolutely love the relationships in the film. 

The universality of its message that parents and grandparents just want to do wonderful things for their children even if there is misunderstanding along the way. The photography is beautiful, the acting is absolutely spot on and the editing and script is crisp and so well paced. I look forward to more of this branded content from our friends in China.

Three brilliant films that show the highs and lows of parenting, Eastern style

Good Storytelling Transcends

Disclaimer: I am a pale, stale, western male who probably has no right to comment so you should take everything here with that in mind. That said, I cry at everything and these three films had me sobbing with the recognisable dilemmas posed so it just goes to show that good creative storytelling transcends cultures and generations.