University of Chicago
Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter
Aspect of family in the film Pushing Hands
Family has been depicted as one of the most important aspects in a number of films. Notably, many people believe in family as the most useful unifying aspect among various groups. In China, for instance, family is considered to be among the factors that individuals need to hold so dear to them. Various movies have been produced with the aspect of family being given weight in the movies. In addition, the cultural aspect of family has also been seen to be a factor that most individuals consider to be highly imperative in bringing to life the movies in question. This paper seeks to carry out an analytical interpretation of the aspect of family in the film Pushing Hands.
In every family, father-to-son relationship is often seen as factor that is quite essential in bringing together the various family members. In addition, when the father and the son are at logger-heads, family unity is at a point of jeopardy and might escalate to highly detrimental scales. Apart from securing a unified family, father to son relationship is always considered a great aspect, especially in Chinese culture. In addition, most parents struggle to ensure that their children do not go against the immortal cultural values that each group is inclined to. Particularly, Chinese parents often want to see their sons embrace the Confucian cultural values even if they are in other countries (Huang, 2000).
In line with family relationships between a father and a son, the film Pushing Hands seek to bring to the audience the idea of how westernization has affected family cultural values for the Chinese. Furthermore, the father (Mr. Chu) disagrees with his son Alex on the various family issues and cultural differences between the life in the United States and life in his home town Beijing, China. The film portrays the father son relationship as a cultural factor that should not be taken for granted and as an element that is highly significant in Chinese cultural aspects. As such, the script writer of the film has ensured that the film uses the best characters to bring out the issues of father-son relationship and the elements associated with the cultural differences between those living in the western countries and those living in China.
Mr. Chu (Sihung Lung) who is an elderly man has fully devoted the wider portion of his life to the aspect of studying and teaching other learners tai chi in China. As a result of old age and the desire to be closer to his family, he makes up his mind to move in and stay with his son who is in the United States. However, having lived his entire life in Beijing, China, the elderly man finds it hard to cope with the different cultural factors in the United States. On the other hand, his son Alex (Bo Z. Wang) has been living in New York City for quite some time and has partly been affected by western cultural aspects which are totally different from the Chinese way of life and Tai Chi teachings (Hua-feng, 2013).One of the major family challenges that greatly affect the father and the son is the fact that the father arrives in New York without knowing any English word. In addition, the son is highly Americanized that it would be hard for the father to understand him. Besides, Alex has a wife named Martha (Deb Snyder) who is a writer dealing with the pressure of trying to make sure she publishes her first novel, apart from taking care of her six-year-old kid. Mr. Chu faces the challenge of being totally at odds with a number of American customs and various technological factors. Furthermore, Mr. Chu cannot walk in New York alone as he easily loses his way. Since Mr. Chu is completely dumb on various factors in the American way of life, Martha begins to feel irritated with the fact that she might be taking care of two children. This is because the elderly Mr. Chu has to be taught everything as a child. While staying with his son, Mr. Chu develops a feeling that he has lost his dignity and independence thereby making the relationship between him and the son more challenging.
Eventually, the elderly father tries to work things out on his own and look for a job. However, the harder he attempts to fit in the American culture and make New York look like his home, the more unfamiliar he seems to be. The elderly Mr. Chu feels lost in a different culture at a time when his son is feeling at home and has no issues being seen as an Americanized Chinese. The differences in cultural affiliations make the relationship between Mr. Chu and his son extremely difficult (Chan, 2004).
The significance of the issues of father to son relationship in a family is highly relevant in the wider cultural context. The complexity in the relationship that is brought by different adaptation techniques to distinct cultures give the audience the most appropriate ways through which culture can be viewed in a wider perspective. The title is highly appropriate as it tries to bring out the facts about pushing an individual to conform to a cultural affiliation that is totally different from their original culture. In the non-aggressive turn of events between the father and the son, it is apparent that cultural fidelity is hard to break, and even if one does break it, it has to take quite a long time. The aspect of cultural conflict is an element that keeps on making various family ties broken hence making it difficult for the individuals involved to foster unity between themselves (Zhang, 2002).
In the book From ‘Minority Film’ to “minority Discourse,’” Screening China, Zhang (2002) asserts that cultural aspects such as ethnicity and race play a major role in ensuring that family ties are kept alive. In addition, he argues that failure to stick to the family ties would lead to cultural conflicts. This cultural conflict is the main element that Master Chu find himself in and creates an internal misunderstanding in his cognitive thoughts. Even though his daughter-in-law totally misunderstood him, making him feel discontent and disgraced, the elderly Chu made sure that his efforts to cope up with American culture were kept alive. When he finally disagrees with his son over alleged mistreatment from the wife, he decides to gracefully have his way and walk out of the house. Consequently, after going his own way, Mr. Chu finds his own niche where he can have no one minding about his inclination to Chinese way of life. In conclusion, family and culture have been depicted as some of the most important aspects that need to be considered in learning cultural factors. Besides, culture has been seen as a major defining factor when it comes to association and togetherness.
Chan, K. (2004). The global return of the wu xia pian (Chinese sword-fighting movie): Ang Lee’s Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. Cinema Journal, 43(4), 3-17.
Hua-feng, L. I. (2013). Contradiction and Harmony of Family Ideas between China and America Reflected in the Movie, Pushing Hands. Journal of Yunyang Teachers College, 2, 018.Huang, S. (2000). Ten thousand businesses would thrive in a harmonious family: Chinese conflict resolution styles in cross-cultural families. Intercultural Communication Studies, 9(2), 129-144.
Zhang Yingjin, (2002). “From ‘Minority Film’ to “minority Discourse,’” Screening China (73-90)