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Yellow Earth (1985)
"Huang tu di" (original title)

 -  Drama | Music  -  1988 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.3/10 from 1,206 users  
Reviews: 15 user | 3 critic

Yellow earth focuses on the story of a Communist soldier who is sent to the countryside to collect folk songs for the Communist Revolution. There he stays with a peasant family and learns ... See full summary »



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Title: Yellow Earth (1985)

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Cast overview:
Gu Quing (as Xueyin Wang)
Bai Xue ...
Quiang Liu ...
Tuo Tan ...
The father


Yellow earth focuses on the story of a Communist soldier who is sent to the countryside to collect folk songs for the Communist Revolution. There he stays with a peasant family and learns that the happy songs he was sent to collect do not exist; the songs he finds are about hardship and suffering. He returns to the Army, but promises to come back for the young girl, Cuiqiao, who has been spellbound by his talk of the freedom women have under Communist rule and who wants to join the Communist Army. Written by Ronald Aiken <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Drama | Music


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Release Date:

1988 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Huang tu di  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

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Technical Specs

Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?


The movie is not often viewed in China because most citizens do not understand the film. See more »


Featured in The Story of Film: An Odyssey: Episode #1.12 (2011) See more »

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User Reviews

Peas are frikkin' round, a daughter's fate is frikkin' miserable.
17 July 2008 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Ugh, this is a hard movie to watch. It is both boring and depressing -- and yet really good! How crazy that it works out that way. Maybe because it's a little TOO close to the experience of real life. Here we have a film that's a window into the life of Cuiqiao, and her tiny family of peasants, in a north-western province of China during World War II.

The music is a motif and the main thematic element of the film, expressing the misery most eloquently. The plot sees a lowly Communist officer trying to catalog or find folk songs for the Communist foot-soldiers to sing as morale-boosters. The best singer in town is the shy and depressed Cuiqiao whose life is pitiable. I won't go into details, but it is depressing for reasons that are equally social and economic. The officer seems nice, but he seems like another pawn in a bigger power game -- a guy who really isn't so sure of his faith in the party beyond a means of escape. He's just another guy staying one step ahead of the virulent poverty the main characters suffer through.

Seriously, the stuff is really affecting and memorable. The funny scene or two in this movie is all the more smile-inducing because you're just so glad for the break in the bleak atmosphere. And the songs -- mein gott, what grating stuff to spoiled western ears, but simultaneously so gut-wrenching! I'd call this a period piece, but the experiences of rural western villagers in China are probably pretty timeless. I mean, the landscape is certainly changing, but there are a lot of places that are still like this.

Watch it, you spoiled punks!

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