Guelcher film 'Riding Alone' teaches father-son values

As the second film shown in the Mary D’Angelo Performing Arts Center’s (PAC) fall 2009 Guelcher Film Series, “Riding Alone for a Thousand Miles” seems to emphasize the truly important aspects of life.

After separating himself from society for many years, a father sets off on a journey through China to earn his dying son’s forgiveness and to be granted the permission to see him once again.

The story revolves around the opera, “Riding Alone for Thousands of Miles.”

The son, who is a scholar of Kenichi, the Chinese opera, is unable to perform his duties in the opera due to being weak from his terminal illness.

As a way to gain his son’s forgiveness, the father promises to him that he will be his substitute in the opera. The father begins his life-altering journey when he is instructed by the son to seek out his friend, Li, who plays the lead role.

When the father shows up to work on the opera, he learns that Li has been imprisoned for assaulting a man who made a rude comment about Li’s negligence toward his illegitimate, eight-year-old son Yang Yang.

The father refuses to change his promise in any way and convinces the authorities to allow Li on stage.

However, Li’s spirit has been crushed by his new realization of the awful carelessness he has had for his son, Yang Yang, and is unable to act.

In hope of curing Li’s grief and keeping his promise to his dying son, the father sets off to bring Yang Yang to Li.

During his time spent escorting Yang Yang, who is like an effigy of his own son so many years ago, the father realizes the magnitude of the invaluable relationship he had naively put on hiatus.

“Riding Alone for a Thousand Miles” conveys the timeless hardship of two people bound by a past, but torn in the present.

It emphasizes life’s most important priorities in a beautiful and touching way.

The film will be shown twice on Wednesday in the PAC at 2:15 and 8 p.m.

Tickets are available at the PAC box office. Tickets are $6 for adults and $5 for seniors and students. Tickets may be obtained free by students with Mercyhurst IDs.