Huang tu di (Yellow Earth) (1984) - Rotten Tomatoes

Huang tu di (Yellow Earth) (1984)




Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

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Movie Info

Young Red Army soldier Gu Qing is sent to the northern Shaanxi region of China to learn local folk songs in 1939. He stays with a poor grumpy widower, along with his son Hanhan and his precocious teenage daughter Cuiqiao. The three are initially suspicious of the stranger, but they warm to him after hearing of the new ideas of the Communist party. Soon he teaches the silent Hanhan a song with the line, "Only the Communists can save the poor," but it is with Cuiqiao -- who will soon be sold into marriage to an older man who she has been betrothed to since infancy -- that Gu's talk of a new society has the most effect. She is no longer willing to accept her fate; she wants to join the Communist party where women are given the same treatment as men. When Gu leaves the village, he tells her that he will return to take her to Yan'an, the Communist party stronghold. Unfortunately the officer arrives too late and the results are tragic. ~ Jonathan Crow, Rovi
Art House & International , Drama
Directed By:
In Theaters:


Xue Bai
as Ciu Qiao
Wang Xueqi
as Gu Qing
Tan Tuo
as The Father
Liu Qiang
as Hanhan
Show More Cast

Critic Reviews for Huang tu di (Yellow Earth)

All Critics (7) | Top Critics (4)

The striking images of Yellow Earth... offer respite from a plot that bears the impress of the cultural arm of the Chinese Communist Party's Central Committee.

Full Review… | August 23, 2010
New York Times
Top Critic

The film broke definitively with Chinese studio tradition and introduced a new sense of ambiguity in the relation between political ideology and praxis.

Full Review… | August 23, 2010
Chicago Reader
Top Critic

Yellow Earth is the most impressive film from mainland China unveiled so far in the West.

Full Review… | March 26, 2009
Top Critic

The first 'modern' film to emerge from China, and one of the most thrilling debut features of the '80s.

Full Review… | June 24, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

Justifiably celebrated for its daring, colorful visuals and innovative, eye-opening rhythms.

Full Review… | January 29, 2014
TV Guide

Deeply rooted in the life of the villagers, this is a film about the notion of change -- something not countenanced by the authorities.

Full Review… | May 24, 2003

Audience Reviews for Huang tu di (Yellow Earth)

Not as grandiose as Chen's later film Farewell, My Concubine... this is a small-scale story about the problems of the poor, rural Chinese and Communism's failure to solve them. Again, it reminded me of Zhang Yimou, especially his earlier films, and no wonder: Zhang was the cinematographer on this. I thought it was generally very well done, and wisely keeps the running time short for such a simple story. The use of songs was quite nice, although I thought it was unnecessary to augment them with instruments (including some that occasionally sounded like synthesizers, but I could be mistaken). Good performances, too. Not a "rock your world" type of movie, but a solid and subtle one.

Martin Teller
Martin Teller

I can appreciate the story and whats being told but the actual s film itself isnt to appealing. I couldnt get into this film or make any connections. Just not interesting.

Dan Marino
Dan Marino

A story about a communist soldier who visits a rural village of farmers in order to collect their songs to be re-written as motivational songs for the communist army during WWII. The film shows the harsh way of life of these farmers and their backward traditions of gender inequality. What initially may appear as a praise of the social and economic improvements that the communists brings is subverted by its allegorical ending. At the center of the film is a very low key love story similar to Zhang Yimou's The Road Home. I liked how the characters and their feelings are carried by the songs they sing rather than dialogue. I might have liked this even more if the stark mountainous landscapes weren't marred by the atrocious print I watched.

X. T. C.
X. T. C.

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