To fulfill his father's deathbed wish, a businessman moves his extended family from the city to the countryside, and opens a school for poor children and a sanctuary for childless elders. But his adult children miss urban life and rebel.

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Cast

Cast overview:
Cho-cho Lam ...
Mrs.Sun - the mother / grandmother (as Lim Cho-cho)
Kwah-Wu Shang ...
Sun Liting - father / grandfater
Yanyan Chen ...
Sun Ruoyan - the daughter (as Chen Yen-Yen)
Zhuozhuo Li ...
Daughter-in-law (as Li Shou-Shou)
Chang Yih ...
Sun Shaoting - the son
Chun-Li Chen ...
Yutang - the grandson as a young man
Mei Ling ...
Yutang's wife
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Storyline

To fulfill his father's deathbed wish, a businessman moves his extended family from the city to the countryside, and opens a school for poor children and a sanctuary for childless elders. But his adult children miss urban life and rebel.

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Drama

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Release Date:

9 November 1936 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Filial Piety  »

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(video)

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Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Trivia

This was the first full-length Chinese feature film to have general release in the U.S. See more »

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A Confucian fable
2 March 2007 | by (The New Intangible College) – See all my reviews

The theme of this movie is filial piety in the Confucian tradition, bringing the director in line with China's "New Life Movement," dedicated to a return to traditional morality. The Chinese continued to make silent movies long after other film-making centres had moved on to sound. Here the film has a soundtrack of traditional Chinese music, which is appropriate, and intertitles in Chinese and English.

The story is simple enough. A man races across the country to his father's bedside, arriving just in time for his father's blessing and his own promise to raise his son in the same way, and to treat all aged people with respect as if they were elders of his family, and to treat children as his own, too. Years pass, and the man's son is grown, but he's turned the wrong way in the city, and is given to drink and gambling. The father laments his failure and determines to take the family back to the country. He does, but the son and daughter-in-law arrange a party supposedly to honour the father, but actually an opportunity for carousing with city friends. After this, the son, his wife, and their son—much attached to country life and his grandparents—go back to the city. Time passes, again, and the grandson, grown, writes hi father to urge him to visit the grandfather, who's very ill. The young man shows up at the house, the grandfather rises, and they go to the orphanage the old man has founded where the grandson becomes the new master. Finally the bad son returns to beg forgiveness, and all is reconciled.

The photography is very interesting, and though the interiors are sometimes rather dark, the rooms and furnishing and the costumes and the way the people move—all this gives a fascinating glimpse of a China that has completely disappeared. And the story itself embodies the Confucian principle of family and honour. The film was made in Shanghai in 1935, and a version with English intertitles was released in the U.S. in 1936. The movie is 65 minutes long; there is an abbreviated version floating around that lasts just a little under 50 minutes.


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