A Thousand Years of Good Prayers
Intercultural Communications Midterm Exam
The film A Thousand Years of Good Prayers is a great example of how real life intercultural interactions exist. The main characters do a great job in playing their role. In this essay exam I am going to give a brief synopsis of the film and then describe 15 key terms from our reading and how they apply to the film.
A Thousand Years of Good Prayers
A Thousand Years of Good Prayers is a story about a Chinese father (Mr. Shi) who travels to America to see his daughter (Yilan). His daughter had immigrated to the United States 15 years before and they had not seen each other since. Mr. Shi is a reserved man who is the icon of Chinese culture. Yilan has recently gone through a divorce and Mr. Shi feels that he can help her workout some of her problems. While visiting, Mr. Shi is staying with Yilan in her apartment. It is immediately apparent that there may have been a tense past between the two. As the days go by Mr. Shi becomes more adventurous while Yilan is at work. He has multiple interactions with others outside of the apartment. Yilan appears to be bothered by her father’s visit and starts to avoid him by going out with friends at night after work. Eventually the tension comes a head one night when Mr. Shi witnesses his daughter being dropped off by a man. The man happens to be married and it appears the two are having an affair. Mr. Shi is upset with this and attempts to give advice to Yilan, which ends up in an argument. Yilan is forced to strike back and brings up Mr. Shi’s not so grateful past. This distances both of them. Mr. Shi eventually ends up leaving his daughter to tour the rest of the United States and the two go on their separate ways.
Culture – The totality of a group’s thought, experiences, and patterns of behavior and its concepts, values, and assumptions about life that guide behavior and how those evolve with contact with other cultures.
The culture’s identified in the movie A Thousand Years of Good Prayers are Chinese, Chinese-American, American, Russian, and Iranian. This film does a great job of intercultural interaction. The main characters Mr. Shi is native of China and is visiting his daughter Yilan who as been in America for the last 15 years. Mr. Shi has interaction with multiple American’s throughout the film. Mr. Shi also develops a friendship with an Iranian woman, who like Mr. Shi, also has difficulty speaking English.
Cultural Identity – The identification with and perceived acceptance into a group that has a shared system of symbols and meanings as well as norms for conduct. In the film there are many examples of culture that Mr. Shi demonstrates during his visit to America. His examination of Yilan’s apartment reveals a lack of cultural identity that Mr. Shi is use too. Being a former communist, Mr. Shi imposes his own décor on Yilan’s apartment by hanging a red Chinese symbol on the door. He also ties up the blinds with a red scarf. Mr. Shi cooks multiple meals for Yilan after her workday but has to go out and buy a wok. He states, “I don’t know how to cook without it” referring to the wok.
Co-culture – An interdependent and equal subculture within a society. Mr Shi was proud of the fact that he was a communist and attempts to explain the goodness in it to the Iranian madam. Being Chinese and being communist co-exist. When Mr. Shi is trying to explain communism to the Iranian madam, she appears to be appalled by it. Mr. Shi explains that Chinese communism is good but it is in the wrong hands referring to the emperor.
High Context Communication – Communication in which less has to be said or written because more of the meaning is in the physical environment or already shared by people. Throughout the movie there are many examples of high context communication. In the opening scenes, Yilan is picking up her father...
References: Jandt, F. E. (2013). An Introduction to Intercultural Communication, Identities in a Global Community. California: Sage Publication, Inc.
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