Back to 1942 (2012) - full transcript

A famine with multiple contributing factors and devastating effects during the Second Sino-Japanese war is chronicled from the official perspective of reporters, generals, politicians and real families whose lives were forever altered by drastic measures they were forced to take in order to survive. Alternately ignoring the dire nature of the famine and its subsequent exodus of millions of people from the Hunen province, and minimizing its devastation to the outside world, the Chinese Nationalist government of the time is one which seems to be over burdened by ongoing war efforts and corruption in the distribution of relief supplies. Policy and private life are worlds apart in stopping the devastation shown through the portrayals of those who lived to tell the tale and their accounts of those who were not so lucky, of whom there were many (3 million.) This is a true story based upon Liu Zhenyun's novel "Remembering 1942," Zhenyun himself is the descendant of a survivor of the 1942 famine and his family story is poignantly portrayed--showing heroism, self sacrifice, terrible misfortune and ultimate survival of the lucky few. - stop by if you're interested in the nutritional composition of food
Greetings to our compatriots

around China and overseas.


is the 31st New Year's Day

since the founding of the Republic of China

and the fifth

New Year's Day

that we have spent

at war.

Since our declaration of war

against Japan and the Axis powers

on December 12 of last year,

our war of resistance has entered a new phase

and China's war with Japan

has become a world war.

The duty of China

is now all the greater,

and the burden of our people and our army

is all the weightier.

We must renew and redouble our efforts.

On this first day of the new year,

I will discuss with the public

the past, present,

and future of this war.

Over the past half-year,

and particularly the past month,

our war of resistance has changed utterly.

Before, ours was a solitary struggle

within our own country

against the Japanese invaders.

Today, we have joined
Great Britain, the United States,

and Soviet Union

and other friendly nations

in fighting side by side

to rid the world of our common enemies.

Our burden

is the responsibility of the Republic of China

to world civilization and morality.

As long as the Japanese invaders

and the Axis powers

remain on this earth,

as long as world civilization and morality

remain under threat,

we shall continue

to shoulder this heavy burden.

The outcome of this war

will determine not only
the survival of our nation,

but the future of all mankind.

Victory for China

will lay a strong foundation
for generations to come.


will push our people past the point of no return.

My fellow countrymen...

From the winter of 1942,

to the spring of 1944,

a terrible drought

starved my home province

of Henan.


in other places, other things were happening:

the Battle of Stalingrad,

Gandhi went on hunger strike.

Soong May-ling visited the United States.

Winston Churchill got a cold.



Yes, sir?

Did you feed the animals?

I was just about to.

When you're done that,

go check the granary.

That's all the grain the village has left.

Master Fan...

there's someone in there now.



Mister Fan... Sir...


I'm just here to borrow some grain.

I'll give you some...

if I can borrow you for a little while.

Mister Fan...


My wife's pregnant

and I haven't gotten a taste in months.

Mister Fan!

At a time when people are starving to death...

how could you?


If it weren't for the famine,
you wouldn't be asking either.

Just one go

and I'll give you two pints of millet.

How's that for fair?

You animal!

I'll scream.

Don't! Don't!


Take this walnut too.

Your hair's losing its color.


The bandits are coming!

Every man to the village walls!

Bandits coming!

Every man to the village walls!

Bandits coming!

Every man to the village walls!

Bandits coming!

Every man to the village walls!

It's Ciwei, right?

When you were a pup,

your mother did laundry for us.

One time you pitched a fit

and I took you to go see a doctor.

Did you forget?


we don't want any trouble.

We're starving.

Just feed us.


I'll give every one of you two pints of millet

to send them packing right now.


we would if we could,

but we haven't eaten in days.

There's no fight in us.




Get a horse and go to the county seat.

Alert the magistrate!

I don't think I can, sir.

Ask someone else.

Three silver coins!

I'm counting on you with my life!



all right!


show a little respect.

I'll give you a bucket of millet.

Go look for food somewhere else!


we're already here,

so let's not go back and forth over it.

Tonight, we eat with you.

Whatever we eat,

we'll pay back after the drought.

Come, come.

Dig in, dig in!

We've waited long enough.


Young master.

Take this.

Call out the rest of the villagers

to eat too.

We can't let these bastards eat all of it.

If they don't leave afterwards,

we'll teach them a lesson.

Yes, sir!


Quick, quick.



Landlord Fan's son said

we'll all eat together.

Afte rwa rd s

if the bastards don't leave,

be ready for a fight!

Eat up!

Eat up!

We moved all the valuables and the ledgers

to Mr. Ge's home in the west end of the village.

No, no.

We'll cart it all into the city tomorrow.





From the county seat?

No! Japanese soldiers!


The Japanese?

Calm down, calm down. Slowly now.



There were Japanese troops in the mountains,

heading for Puyang.

I couldn't get through.

Are you trying to get me killed, Shuanzhu?



We come here to ask for a meal...

and you call in the troops?



how dishonorable can a man be?

A moment of weakness...

I'll make it up to you.

Eat up, my friends! Eat up!

Eat your fill!

Eat up?

Eat this!

Master Fan!

Heaven preserve us!

My goodness!

Three pints of millet each! Fight!


My donkey!

Try me!



Save me.

Mister Fan?


My heart...

You thought I didn't know

you were trying to screw my wife?


Where are you going?

It's all gone crazy, boss.

Your son is dead!

My boy!

My boy!

Landlord Fan

never had faith in the Lord.

He was warned, and still he refused.

And now, having lost the protection of the Lord,

he has gotten his just deserts.

You see?

What good did his wealth do him?

His son dead,

his home burnt to the ground,

nowhere to turn but the county seat.

This is called

"not shedding tears until one sees the coffin."

It must be a rude awakening.

Why do you all flee the famine?

Because you're all godless heathens!

Running blindly away...

you don't know what lies ahead of you.

Who can you turn to out there?


Take refuge in the Lord!

Carp with dry noodles,


In a famine year? This is too much, my friend.

Governor Li...

There are 72 wealthy families in the county.

All of them have been robbed.

After they rob the rich men,

they'll turn to the county government offices.

I'm still new to this job.

I never would have imagined that a drought

could starve all of Henan!

The whole province is suffering

and the national grain stores are empty.

Coming to Henan was like boarding a sinking ship.

Governor Li...

the whole province is suffering,

but you've seen how bad it is in Yanjin.

When the time comes to distribute relief grain,

I trust you will treat Yanjin county favorably.

My friend... I'm not here to
distribute relief grain.

Then why are you here?

We're about to go to war.

I've come to collect grain for the army.


what does "flee" mean?

There's no food.

Do you want to starve?


Then you have to go somewhere to look for food.

That's "fleeing."

Why are you wearing your wedding clothes?

Are you planning to run from the famine in those?

It's for good luck on the road!


You think fleeing is a lucky thing?

Go change!

It looks like these old bones

won't be buried with my ancestors.

Your ancestors were all broke anyway.

You little bastard.


don't forget to bring the ancestral tablets.


We're fleeing from a famine,

not going to watch a show.

Why are you taking that cat?

I don't want to go, dad.


I want to go back and find my schoolmates.

Where are they now?

Some went to the front to fight the Japanese.

Going to the front lines means going to war.

Going to war means killing people.

A girl like you? Killing people?

Then I'll go back to school

and guard it with the others!

Shuanzhu! Stop!

Get back here!

Out of the way!

Why are you being difficult now? Let's go.

Your brother got a bright idea too...

and it cost him his life!

Don't think about it.

My dowry from my parents

and all of my money was in that jewelry box!

Where did it go?

We're not like them.

They're running from the famine.

We're temporarily avoiding the crisis.

A month at most...

maybe just two weeks...

and then you can go back to school.

Shuanzhu, didn't you see my jewelry box?

How many times to I have to tell you?

What are you trying to say?

That I'm a thief?

Search me then! Search!


Don't take it the wrong way
that's not what she meant.

Master Fan!

Don't get upset. It's not good for the baby.

I'm not leaving.

Find someone else to drive your cart!

What is it?

In the 1931 famine

my parents ran...

and they starved to death on the road.

We're dead either way.

Don't be foolish.

Look at all the grain we have with us.

Nobody's going to starve.

Go look.

It's going to be rough going,

and Xingxing is so young...

I'll feel much better if you come along.


As long as I'm here,

noone'll dare lay a hand on you.

Sorry to interrupt.

Mr. Minister,

allow me to introduce myself.

I am Theodore White, I report for Time magazine.

Mr. White

Yes, sir

You have become famous in Chungking.

Is that right?


I have read your reports on the battles

in Changsha and the China-Burma highway.

I don't mean to be rude,

But I am going to head back to the US next month

can you spare a moment?


Thanks a lot.

There is a lot of talk in Chungking about the

severity of the drought in Henan.

I've heard that many people
are starving to death every day.

And there are many refugees fleeing to Shaanxi.

This is true.


starvation is primarily

a problem in the occupied areas.

The war has made this

natural disaster even worse.

A large battle is imminent.

If people are moving west,

it is also to avoid the war.

From the perspective of the Chinese people,

they can only have enough to eat

if the Japanese are wiped out.

Do YOU agree?


Master Fan!


You're running too?

Is the whole village leaving?


Let's go together.

We'll look after each other.

Let's go.

We can take care of each other.

Let's go.

The drought can't be all bad

if it's making the Fans poor too.

Poor, maybe.

Still richer than us!

As Commander Jiang prepares to
lead his forces to the front,

The 30 million people of Henan
greet your troops with food and drink.

We wish you and your soldiers
a swift, decisive victory.


There's no need for all the courtesy, Governor.

Let's get straight to the point.

What can I do for you?

Henan experienced a devastating drought this year.

We also had locusts.

The land is barren

and the corpses of those
who have starved are everywhere.

750,000 tons of grain... more than the province can give.

Please, general - cancel the request.

The people are suffering.

You are quite right, governor.

I agree.

Thank you, commander, for your kindness.

The children of Henan will never
forget your compassion.

But you need to do two things for me.

Only two? I'll do twenty.


go to the Japanese

and talk them out of attacking Henan.


go to the Generalissimo

and get him to move
my troops back west to Shaanxi.

Do that, and we won't eat
a single kernel of your grain.

Commander, it's not like that.

Famine years are different.

There are millions of people starving to death.

Governor Li,

there are tens of millions of men
marching to the front.

Who knows how many of them
will live to next month?

If it's a matter of choosing who will starve...

...a dead refugee won't lose the war for us.

A soldier starving to death

is another matter entirely.

Good day.


That's not right!

All gone.

We'll starve if we keep going.

There's people going hungry and
you're feeding a cat?

I'm giving her my share.

I just won't eat later,

all right?

You're eating for two.

You can have more later.

Master Fan...

The donkey has the runs.

Should I feed it?

If we can get through this in a month,

then yes.

Then go ahead.

If it takes longer,

I'm afraid we'll be down to eating the donkey.



Who is it?

Wake up.

Brother Sim,

are you fleeing too?

God had Moses lead the Israelites out of Egypt.

Now God wants me to lead you out of Henan.

So the war is about to start and
you're afraid of dying, eh?

A favor to ask you.

Liang, the rich landlord from
Changyuan, was running.

He just died of typhoid

but his eyes are still open.

Why do you think that is?


Because he didn't believe in God.

Now he's waiting for God.

I want to say a mass for him.
Can you play the erhu?

I'm too weak. My ribs are practically
touching my backbone.


trying to win converts with
the famine, Brother Sim?

After the famine is over,

you'll see how great God is.

It'll work better if you play the erhu.

People will see it's a serious thing.

Give me my erhu.

Hungry little devil!

It's too late at night to be eating.

Go to sleep!

"A long, hard month out on the road"

"Braving illness, hunger, and cold"

"Landlord Liang had piles of gold"

"And a lonely death none could have foretold."

"His horrid end and tragic fate"

"Resulted from his lack of faith."

"Lay down your burden, the time has come"

"God is before you."

"Lay down your burden, the time has come"

"God is before you."

Bury him.

This famine isn't all bad, eh Old Ma?

If the government hadn't set up
a circuit court for the refugees,

you'd still be a cook at the yamen,

instead of a judge!

They couldn't find anyone else to
take the job, is all.

Not enough people, and it's a shit job anyway.

Who wants to deal with refugees?

No profit in it.

No one wants to do it.


There's something I don't understand.


if we're working with refugees,

how come we're the "War Area Circuit Court"

instead of the "Refugee Circuit Court?"

Don't be stupid.

"War Area" sounds like it's a big, proper court.

"Refugee Circuit Court" just sounds bad.

You see?

That's right.

Stick with Old Ma, boys,

and you'll be officials once the famine's over.

Yes sir! We'll be good!

Hear ye, hear ye!

The 9th Circuit Court of the 1st War Area

is now in session!


He was carrying a concealed gun

in violation of wartime regulations.

It's not mine...

my landlord bought it three years ago.

We're at war. Do you understand?

Old Ma,

do what you like,

but don't take the gun.

We need it for protection on the road.



From who?

Chinese people?

Why not use it on the Japanese, tough guy?

Want to carry a gun?


Tie him to the cart and take him to the frontline.

Master Fan! Master Fan!

- Save me, Master Fan! - Old Ma.

Sir! Sir!

Old Ma.

Old Ma.

Three pints of flour for him and the gun. Deal?

We know each other.

You can either donate money,

or donate manpower.

Everyone has to do their part.

Thank you, sir.

Three pints of flour for him. We keep the gun.


Release him.

Leave the gun.

Three pints of flour?

Bread for lunch, boys!



Generalissimo. Peiji...

Governor Li.

As for Burma,

a telegram from LuoZhuoying:

We suffered heavy casualties
west of Mandalay yesterday.

More than 800 men were killed

in a gas attack by the Japanese.

I've told Luo

you'll be there today.

The Japanese led a stealth
attack on Yenangyaung last night.

More than 7,000 British troops
and trucks are trapped.

Field Marshal Montgomery sent a telegram

asking us to send troops from Mandalay
to rescue Yenangyaung.

President Roosevelt's private secretary
has arrived in Chungking.

He asked to see you,

but I told him you'd be going to Mandelay.

As for Nanking,

Zhou Fohai sent a secret envoy

that he is setting up a covert
radio station at his home

to evade Wang Jingwei.

Dai Li met with the secret envoy yesterday.

Please advise.

As for India,

Gandhi's hunger strike was successful.

Hindu and Muslim

leaders have agreed

to stop the bloody conflict and
are on a path of reconciliation.

How long was the hunger strike?

Seven days.

Hitler and Mussolini met yesterday.

They said that in three days

the German army will occupy Stalingrad.

Our embassy in the Soviet Union, however,

says the outcome of the battle of Stalingrad
is far from clear.

Please tell the British embassy

that when I visit India next month

I would like to meet Gandhi.

As for northern Henan,

General Jiang Dingwen sent a telegram yesterday.

Most of our troops have crossed
the Yellow River and are in position,

but the Japanese have not yet made a move.

Tell Jiang Dingwen

it's best to make the first move

and get the upper hand.


your flight to Mandalay is ready to depart.


did you have enough to eat?

I did. I did.

What brings you to Chungking?

Nothing special.

I heard there is a drought in Henan.

Is it severe?

The province... will overcome it.

We will overcome it.


Henan is in a difficult situation.

That's why I sent you there.

Tell Director Chen

Governor Li is tired.

Please look after him for me.

Did you report the situation to the Generalissimo?

Everything they reported to him

was more important than what I had to say.

I didn't know what to say.

Looks like I came to Chungking for nothing.

Governor Li...

You missed your chance to tell him.

Now things will be more difficult.

Director Chen,

It's all here in these documents.

For the sake of the thirty million
starving people in Henan,

help me find a way

to ask the government for emergency relief.

When the Generalissimo returns from Burma,

I'll find a chance to give these to him.

Thank you.

Anyone here?

I want to speak to Father Megan

Last time I was in Chungking,

Father Coutie showed me

your articles in Time magzine.

Thank you for telling the story of
the Chinese people.

Father Coutie has been very helpful.

Very kind.

He told me you know Henan very well.


I've been in China for thirty years now.

For the first ten years,
I thought I knew this place,

But then I became more and more uncertain.

When I left Chungking,

I knew there was a famine.

But I...

I had no idea

how severe it would be.

Every day people are dying.

The dead alone don't sadden me.

What saddens me is,

I have no idea what's happening.

The refugees trudge forward every day,

And I can't see

a government stepping in to assist them.

We both do not understand

what is happening with the Chinese refugees.

The government officials say

they can't help the refugees because of the war,

but they are not doing
so well in the battles either.

Thank you.


Before the famine,

farmers used this to feed their pigs.

Bon appetit!

I actually like yams.

Oh good

The donkey is the best I can do for you.

But I urge you to return to Chungking.

I'm glad to come to Henan.

There must be a reason behind what is happening.

I want to know the truth.

Henan now belongs to the Japanese.

If you continue into the disaster area,

there are two possible results:


you win a Pulitzer Prize.


you get taken prisoner by the Japanese.

I will pray for your Pulitzer.

From your mouth to God's ears.

I will remember you, Father.


How are you feeling?

Getting worse.

You're burning up.

It's not so bad. At least I'm warm.

That's bad luck.

Go, go.

Quick, take her while she's asleep.

Quick, take her while she's asleep.

So small. You say she's ten?

Let's talk over there.

She looks only three or four.

She's famished.

Lack of food has made her small.

Feed her something and she will grow.

If we buy her as a child bride,

we still need to feed her for a few years.

We've been on the road for a month.

Nobody in our family

has eaten anything in the last ten days

except sticks and kindling.

My mother's sick

and I don't know how long she'll last.

Your wife?

I'd give you five pints of millet for her.

I couldn't sell her. She'd sell me.

The boy looks alright. Three pints of millet.

I need him to carry on the family name.

Two and half pints of millet.

Take her.


Fuck your ancestors!

Trying to sell my daughter away?

Give her back!

Give her to me!

You think I want to sell her?

Ma's at death's door, and we need medicine.

Take her.

Take her! I'm still in charge of this family!

I'll kill her myself

No! Shuanzhu, stop her!

Before I let you take her away!

Give her to me.

Give me back my child.

Give her to me!

Go to sleep!

If this is all for my sake

I'd rather hang myself this instant!

Hang yourself?

Where'd you tie the rope?


They're putting the whole thing on for us to see.

All these poor people.

I can't save them all.

Don't stand around. Go sleep.

Don't stand around. Go sleep.

Don't sell the girl.

Make your mother some porridge.

You can pay me back when this is over.

Why not make it 10 pints?

Then I won't have to keep begging.

I've got a family too.

My son's wife is pregnant,

and there's still a long way ahead of us.

What's that?

It's the army. They're fighting the Japanese.

Fuck their war!

Don't they know we're starving here?

I hope we win.

If we win,

then we can go back home.

9th Army Headquarters.

We might lose Changyuan.

There have been a lot of bayonet skirmishes.

800 casualties for the Japanese...

but more than 5,000 for our side.

Order the 15th Army and 28th Army

to surround Tangyin and Anyang by tomorrow morning

and attack by noon.

Telegram from the Generalissimo, sir.

Leave the room.

What's wrong?

The Generalissimo sent a telegram
from the front in Burma

ordering us to retreat from Henan.

Are you sure?

Why singlehandedly give Henan to the Japanese?


there are so many refugees in Henan.

If we retreat,

we'll be abandoning them to the Japanese.

Maybe that's exactly why

the Generalissimo made his decision.

Our country is poor.

The only way to survive
is to cast off our burdens.

Get away!

Get away!

Back up!

Get away!

Why aren't we moving forward?

It's jammed.

Get away.


Sir, did we win or lose?

We won, of course!

Then why are you retreating?

It's a retrograde maneuver!

Everyone back!

Sir! Sir!

You can't take this cart.

We've been risking our lives,

Japanese mortar shells flying back and forth,

and you're upset about a cart?


It's not a cart, sir!

It's a national circuit court!

Then we're doing you a favor!

After we leave, the Japanese will come.

You going to hold court for them?

This court is now an ambulance.


There are slightly more troops than
civilians in the crowd.

If the troops are in the majority,
we should bomb them.

Yes, sir!

Three, two, one. Launch!

Get off!


Xingxing, this way!


Where is everyone?


Where are you?

Sir! Sir! My cart!

My money! sir!

Sir, my food! For pity's sake!




Shuanzhu! Save me!

Let go of me!

Let go!


Mom, are you all right?

Stay here!





Father Sim!






She's dead?

Are you happy now?

She's lucky.

We'd be better off dead.

I wish they'd dropped a bomb on me too!

I'll kill you, you stinking bitch!

This is no time to be fighting.

It's all gone.

I should've lent you some of that millet.

Hurry, now. Dig a hole for her.




It's nothing.

Just a scratch.

I never knew you had it in you!

I dare them!

Where's your cat?





Don't worry. It's fine.

Master Fan?

Master Fan?

Are you alright?

I'm not master of anything now.

It's all gone.

Call it fate.

We said this would just be temporary.

Now we're refugees, just like the rest of them.

No different from anyone else.

Xialu, Xialu.

Wait a moment.

Master Fan?

Can you do me a favor?


You've got a cart

and we don't anymore.

My daughter-in-law is pregnant.

Let her ride on your cart.

If you let her ride,

we'll forget all about

the millet you borrowed.

How does that sound?

We're all neighbors here.

Get on.

Sure then.


It's a deal.

She can sit.

Shuanzhu, go pull the cart.

Master Fan begging us?

Feels good!

Father Sim,

you did well

to stay with the refugees,

preaching and doing the work of the Lord.

You will certainly make a difference.


I'm a deserter.

I came back here

on a truck with the defeated soldiers.

You need to rest.

You must not starve to death.

A dead priest cannot preach.

I want to ask you one question.

The Lord knows what's happening here?


If He knows,

why doesn't He do anything?

Everything in this world

because of the Lord's wishes.

This is not

the wishes of the Lord.

This is caused by the Devil.


Why the Devil always win?

If the Lord can't win,

why believe?

Father Sim,

you're tired.

You mustn't doubt the Lord.


I also feel the Devil has entered my body.

Jesus Christ.

Push harder.


I can't, Mommy.

I have to pick it out every day.

I should just let you clog up.

Small wonder she can't poop.

We've had nothing but tree bark to eat.

Makes my breath smell bitter.

My breath used to smell like dumplings.


Stop following me.

I want to take a picture though.

Hold on.


Give me one.

Stop following.

Hey, look.

A foreigner.

Give me one.

Come here.




you go take his donkey.



You keep an eye on him.

Don't wake him up.


Where should I take it?

Keep going.

Kill it. Cook it. Eat it.

Stop, Stop!

Stop, Stop!



The crackers

and the donkey

are yours.

You can't eat the camera.

Give it to me.


Shuanzhu, stop.

Give it to him.


Thank you.




Sure, sure.

What are you waiting for?

Go find Xialu and the donkey.

Go on!




Where's the donkey?

It ran off.

You moron!

Can't even handle a donkey!

I wanted it to run faster,

so I smacked its rump.

But it got startled.

Which way did it go?

It was too dark.

I couldn't see.

You go that way.

I'll go this way.



You killed my donkey?

Fuck off!

Your donkey?

You're just a refugee.

If you had a donkey,

your eyes wouldn't be caving in.

If you're going to keep it,

at least give me a piece of meat!

You couldn't push him somewhere else?

It's been three days.

We can't keep waiting.

If we don't leave,

we'll starve right here.

Where'd Xialu go?

We've looked everywhere,

but there's no trace of him.

You were going to steal a donkey!

There's no donkey and now no Xialu.

You've got to make it right.

People have been dying every day on this road.

What's so strange about that?

At least they leave bodies behind.

What about Xialu?

We haven't found a live body or a dead one!

You don't even care!



Where did you go?

We're all alone and
they're taking advantage of us!

Why don't you do anything?

Where are you?


They all lost their parents in the war.

It's a new group,

so they haven't rehearsed yet.

They're good.

Very good.

The girl holding the flag

is the daughter of General Sun Fangwu.

General Sun led Division 96.

He died in Burma last month.

Your father was a great soldier.

You come visit us

at Chinese New Year

and I'll give you a nice present.

All right?

Your fathers

were all great soldiers.

Why is everybody heading west?

Well, habit, I think.

People in Henan always go west to Shaanxi
when there is a disaster.

Just like people in Shandong go to the Northeast.

How can a drought produce such a disaster,

there are so many displaced people here.


It's mainly because of locusts.

Can't be fucking locusts.

Get down.

Get down.

Stop it!




Everyone watch for my hand signal!

Be careful

you don't shout too early

or too late.

Wait until the foreigners

are 50 meters away.

Does everyone understand?


Louder! Understand?


Then let's give it a try and see

if all the factories,


work units,

and stores

are well-rehearsed!


The cars are coming!

Now they are 50 meters away!



Together now! Louder!


Together now!

No, this is not acceptable!

They are still not shouting in unison!

Is this what you call organization
here in Chungking?

What if we didn't have them speaking English?

How about "huanying?"

This isn't about what they shout.

This is a diplomatic issue!

Mr. Gaus. I need to talk to you.

I'm on a tight schedule.

It's urgent.

I have to go to the airport to pick up
the president's special envoy.

Five minutes.

Give me five minutes. Okay?


Fine. Five minutes.

Your story

sounds made up.

No one is going to believe you.

If I hadn't run into several
Chinese communications troops,

I'd have starved to death along with
the rest of those poor people.

If you report this in Time Magazine,

it will be explosive news.

I want to tell the Chinese government about
what's happening in Henan.


But this is China's war.

For God's sake.

It's out of my hands.


Before I went to Henan,

it was easy for me to meet with
government officials.

I don't know, now that I have returned,

it's like I have a contagious disease.

I can no longer meet with Minister Song Ziwen

I can not longer meet with Minister Zhang Daofan,

and Ambassador Gaus can't help either.

With the assistance of Xie Weisi
at the U.S. Embassy

I was able to see the Chairman of
Sichuan Province.

He told me he has no control over Henan.

He introduced me to Sun Ke,

president of the Court.

He told me that only General Chiang
can make any changes.

Lastly I met with Yu Youren.

He says I had to sit with you

and that perhaps you can help me

meet with Generalissimo Chiang.

Well, I understand.

He is very busy.

But don't worry.

I Will call him.

How long shall I wait?

Five days,

or ten days.

Or maybe you won't see him at all.


Want some?

Give me a kiss.

After this is over.

I can't wait any longer!

Didn't work?

I'm telling you,

a girl gets a little education and
she thinks she's special.

I'll sleep with you for the crackers.

I don't have any crackers.

- Give them to me. - I don't have any!

Give it to me!

You and Master Fan got Xialu killed.

You've got to make that right!

One life

is worth two crackers.


There's the head!



I'm dying.

I don't have the strength.


Keep on pushing.

There it comes!

Here, the scissors.

She did it.

L't'S a boy!


Hurry! Hurry! Faster!

Ancestors bless us.

Ancestors be praised.

Master Fan!

Come give the boy a name!

With a name, he'll have a better chance of living.


Call him Liucheng - a good, auspicious name.

Just kill him.

Back on the road,

I won't have any milk for him.

He won't make it.

Don't say that!

Kill a healthy baby like this one?

We can't kill him!


I'll sell my coat

and make a nice hot soup for you.


I'm sorry.

You brought that cat all this way

and today we had to

kill it.


I want some soup too.


You are in charge of the press, are you not?


This is an editorial about the situation in Henan.


Our readers will have seen yesterday's report

about the disaster in Henan.

Who could have imagined
30 million of our countrymen

were doomed to the hellish fate of starvation?

This is all my fault.

I just got back from Guangxi yesterday.

This Wang Yunsheng,

he's the editor of Ta Kung Pao?


Poisoning people's minds.

Shut his paper down!

Shut his paper down!


Wang Yunsheng

has been invited by
the U.S. Office of Strategic Services.

He will leave for America in a few days.

At this...

I don't think he should go.

Even more people

are talking about the war in Henan.

They're say we're abandoning Henan

and leaving the refugees to the Japanese.

It's an open secret.

When did we say we were giving up on Henan?

Set the record straight with an editorial

Set the record straight with an editorial

in the Central Daily News.

Yes sir.

Right away.

The Generalissimo will see
Mr. Wilkie off at the airport.

You only have fifteen minutes.

You understand Chinese, right?


Then I won't have to translate for you.

But I am going to have to speak English, okay?



This is Mr. White.

Mr. White,

I've heard of you.

Nice to see you.

Honorable Generalissimo,

It grieves me to report to you

that thirty million people in Henan

don't have enough food to eat.

Each day an increasing number of refugees
are starving to death.

He is reporting on the situation in Henan.

He says many people are starving.

It's been explained to me by some officials

it is because there is a war going on,

but I was there

and it appears as if the Japanese
haven't started an attack on Henan.

He says the government must not
know what's happening.

Officials say it's because of the war,

but the Japanese haven't started attacking Henan.

There is indeed a famine,

but it's not as severe as you say.

With all due respect, Generalissimo,

I've heard that people are now
resorted to eating each other.

He heard there's been cannibalism.


Something like that could never happen in China.

I've seen dogs eating people.

I've seen it.

I've seen it, Sir.

He saw it himself.

I've seen it, Sir.


I never imagined

things could be so bad.

If the famine is indeed as severe as you say

then the government

will surely take action!

These self-satisfied Americans.

They're nothing but trouble!

If those pictures get published,

they'll call me the Generalissimo

who sat by while his people suffered.

A heartless despot.





White's article about the Henan famine

has been published in Time.

Should I confiscate
all the copies of Time in China?


Buy as many copies as possible.

Have the Foreign Ministry
translate it into Chinese.

Send a copy to every minister
and provincial governor.

Add Li Peiji's reports at the end.

We need to send relief
as soon as the Japanese leave.

Otherwise, what will the rest of the world think?

We'd be as corrupt as they say we are.

Contact Yan Xishan

Have them immediately send supplies
to the disaster area.


tell Zhang Lisheng

to mobilize all of China to raise
relief funds for the refugees.

There are times

when I miss the old Northern Expedition days.

All I had to do was give the order,

and my men would leap into action.

I had no burdens

keeping me from standing with the people.

How is she?

She lost a lot of blood, and with the cold

her pulse is very weak.

You've got to do something.

If you save her,

I'll give you two acres of land when this is over.

Master Fan,

the cure is very simple.

Just give her some food.

If you want to know,

my mother and my grandchildren

died of hunger on the road these past two days.

I'm so hungry I can't walk straight.

Master Fan!

Master Fan, hurry!

What is it?

She stopped breathing.

She was a good daughter-in-law.

I don't know what I'll tell her family,

letting her die like this.

What are you doing?

Give the baby some milk

while her body is still warm.

My god!


She hasn't eaten in five days!

She is as thin as a stick.

How can she have milk?


After urgent appeals from
the provincial government,

the central government has started
providing relief aid to Henan.

Starting this month,

the central government

will provide 80 million pounds of grain

from the military provisions.


Governor Li's deep concern for the public welfare

and fearless dedication have finally paid off.

He not only went to Chungking,

but he also submitted six reports.

Future generations of Henanese

will remember Governor Li's kindness.

Let's discuss the matter of
delivering the relief grain.


How can we have this meeting?

The heads of the grain and account departments

are both absent.

That's not right.

Mr. Lu and Mr. Peng have gone to

Luoyang to inspect the disaster.

We can't delay relief efforts by another moment.

After all our begging,

they're only offering 80 million pounds?

When there was a famine in Hubei last year

the government gave more than 200 million pounds.

Do we sell ourselves so cheaply in Henan?

Is 80 million pounds enough?

We have 30 million people.

Each person only gets two and half pounds.

That's enough for three days!

What happens after that?

Mr. Fang,

getting 80 million pounds

is better than having to give 80 million pounds.

After we get this,

we can ask for more.

80 million is enough to
take care of the emergency.

It may even save

a few hundred thousand people.

Am I right?


the main task

is to define the disaster areas.

Define the disaster areas?

The entire province is a disaster area.

Mr. Fang,

It is precisely because there is
not enough to go around

that we can't distribute grain at random.

We have to focus on the worst areas.

I agree that we should focus our efforts.

But in the past

we've concentrated on rural areas

and neglected the cities.

And it's in the cities that we see the problems.

I'm not saying this just because cities

are my jurisdiction.

But remember when the Yellow River flooded

and the provincial government was attacked.

When choosing our focus,

We should consider certain professions.

I'm not saying this because
I'm in charge of education,

but education is our future.

The Generalissimo has always said so.

We mustn't focus on the refugees

at the expense of other groups.

If our teachers and students starve to death

we'll have no future to save.

So far as focus goes,

as the captain of police,

I need to speak up for the hundreds of
thousands of police who are also frightened.

Because they're busy in our areas of focus.

Wherever there's trouble,

they're there to keep order.

I dare say

if it weren't for the thousands of police braving

hunger and enforcing law and order,

we would already have had a revolution in Henan.

80 million pounds is not enough for anything.

The police are among the refugees.

What are you arguing for?

What are you arguing for?

Before we got this aid,

you were constantly complaining about it.

Now that we've got it,

you're tearing each other to pieces over it.

If I'd known,

I never would have asked.

It's still not too late to send the grain back!


Each department is focused on its own problems.

You all have good reasons.

As for how we define who's a refugee.

And who isn't,

we can discuss that later.

I must emphasize that

in distributing this relief grain,

we cannot be selfish.

We must act under the leadership of
the provincial government.

If that's how it is,

why bother having this meeting?

Can't the two of you just decide
between yourselves?


what are you trying to say?

Telegram, Mr. Governor.

What's going on today?


What now?

Does the government want to take it back?

The government doesn't want it back.

We've been ambushed by Jiang Dingwen.

Remember the 30 million pounds of grain he wanted?

He's detained the head of
the grain department, Lao Lu,

and the head of the accounts department, Lao Peng.

They are both with Jiang.

He'll release them in exchange for grain.

You all like arguing so much?

Why don't you go argue with Jiang Dingwen?

In a famine year,

giving Jiang Dingwen a "gift" like this...

I'm no better than the rest of them.

Jiang Dingwen will take bribes.

A "gift" of 3 million pounds of grain

will not only get us our "hostages" back,

but it might even change his mind
about the 30 million pounds.

That would be in Henan's best interests, too.

Governor Li,

When I exchanged gold bars,

I bought an extra 500,000 pounds of grain.


Why didn't you tell me?

You were at the meeting.

No one will think you're right

if you allocate all of the grain as planned.

It'll only cause more problems.

Old Fang

is always making trouble at meetings.

I don't know what he wants.

He headed up the civil affairs department
for a long time.

Before you came,

he was the top choice to be governor.

Then Generalissimo Chiang changed his mind.

I can contact Generalissimo Chiang
immediately and resign.

He can take over!

He can go speak to Jiang Dingwen!

500,000 pounds is not very much.

If you want the central government
to give you more,

then don't you need to "pay visits" to others?

I can't stay on as an official.

I should retire and go home.

Governor Li,

If we'd retired,

we'd probably be refugees now, too.

This is a broadcast from

the first military district's political department

and the Luoyang municipal government.

To support the war effort

and safeguard military supplies,

and to keep out traitors and maintain civic order,

only residents of Luoyang
will be permitted into the city.

Those who willfully disobey will be prosecuted

under Section Nine, Article Three

of the Wartime City Management Regulations.


You want to die?


Isn't the government providing relief aid?

Where can we get food?

The government has identified two disaster areas,
northern and southern Henan.

Now that you're in Luoyang,

you're no longer considered a refugee.

Then how can I become a refugee?

Turn around and walk a few hundred miles.

North or south, it doesn't matter.






What's wrong with Mom?





Dead is good.

No more suffering.

She can move on to her next life.

In your next life,

don't come back here.

Our commander is deeply concerned
for the common people,

so he is allocating some military grain

to be sold to refugees at a low price

to help them with their difficulties.

I give this responsibility to you.

Act prudently, whatever you do!

The country's fate hangs in the balance.

You must not act out of self-interest.

Trust me, sir.

I may be a businessman,

but I've got more of a heart than
those corrupt officials.

If I were you I'd take your share

and use it to buy land.

You can get half an acre for
ten pints of millet these days.

You can sell it after the famine.

I've got no head for business.

You take care of it.



Listen to our boss on the truck.

Everyone listen up!

I'm the manager of a bedding factory in Luoyang.

I'm looking for workers. Young ones. Girls.

If I pick you, I'll give you food and shelter,

and I'll give your family five pints of millet.

Line up here if you're interested.

You'll all get your turn.

As the judge for the 1st War Area Circuit Court,

I never thought I'd be selling people.

Don't say that.

You're answering the government's
call to save the refugees.

If we want to help them survive,

we should pick as many as we can.

Give them a better life.



Sell me.

What are you talking about?

If we have to die, we'll die together.

The Fan family doesn't sell people.

We buy them.


I can't take it anymore.

We don't even have any firewood left to eat.

Let me live.


Let's go.

Don't push!


Go back.

What are you doing?

Get away!

Don't let me see you again.



What's this?

Buy a big one and you get two small ones.

It's a bargain, mister.

A bargain?

I'm buying one mouth to feed, not three.

You think I'm stupid?

Get out of my sight!

I've gone to school.

I can read.

She's the daughter of a landlord.


Go ahead.

What would my ancestors say?

It's New Year's Eve, Dad.


I'd be selling my daughter on New Year's Eve.


Forget about me.

Just pretend you strangled me to death

when I was born.

You said she'd be with me.

Of course I wanted you to be together,

but she'd starve if she stayed.

I want to kill someone!


I'll marry you.

So you can have a wife before you die.

We got a few new girls today.

I saved the best one

for you.

You think I don't know?

They are all refugees.

With the famine, how can we do this?

It's too much!

It's our way of helping the refugees

with some relief funds.


Of course.

I chose a student for you.

Let's go.

Did you wash yourself?

How old are you?



A good age.

Put down the basin

and give me a massage.

My dad washes his feet before he goes to bed.

All right...

wash my feet first, then.

All right...

Enough bowing.

Put down the basin.


Don't want to serve me?



I want to.

It's just that I ate too much

and I can't bend over.

It's good you two are together...

you can take care of each other.

Your parents are gone,

so we might as well celebrate

during the New Year's fireworks.

Bow before Heaven and Earth.

And then to each other.

Do you know why I married you?

Didn't Master Fan say why?

So we can take care of each other.

If you have a wife,

then tomorrow you can sell your wife.

I've only had a wife for one day.

I can't sell her.

Sell me.

You can get a few pints of grain.

I'll live,

and you will, too.

Nobody would buy me with the kids.

Now they have a father

and I won't have to worry.



Three pints.

You must be joking.

Yesterday someone offered five and I didn't sell.

Who is she?

It's embarrassing,

but she's my daughter.

If your daughter was 16,
then I could give you five quarts.

Don't you see how old she is?

Never mind, then.

If you buy me,

where will you send me to?

It's not like that.

I don't sell people,

I sell cattle.

I'm just trying to help.


If I buy you,

If you are nice to me,

I won't sell you.

I'll keep you as my wife.

How does that sound?

Four quarts

and I'll go with you!


your hometown is Yanjin.

Don't cry.


See this?

This is to remember your daddy by.

Don't lose it.

Mommy, don't go.

Can you stop? I have something to say.



Come here.

After I'm gone,

don't sell the children, no matter what.


My pants are less tattered.

Let's switch.

I'm honored that the Generalissimo has found time

to visit my humble abode

on his trip to Xi'an.

I didn't come here to see you.

I came to see your mother.



Last year when I saw you,

you were having your eyes treated.

Are they better?

My sight is blurry,

but I can still weave.

This is where I'm having problems now.

They don't even want to talk to me anymore.

When my mother was alive,

her eyesight wasn't so good either.

She would weave with her eyes closed.

How's your appetite?

I can eat two steamed buns each meal.

I won't die in the next few days.

They still have to put up with me for a while.


I'm an old woman.

There is something that I want to ask you.

I don't know if I should.


I'm from Henan.

I heard about the famine there.

Lots of people died.

The government is sending aid.

Trains are transporting grain to the disaster area

and transporting refugees to Shaanxi.


My fellow people can be saved.

Old friend,

This time I've come, because I'd like to
borrow something from you.

You are not here to take my head away, are you?

Here is the thing.

War is going to break out again in Henan.

Generalissimo Chiang would like to
borrow grain from you.

The battle in northern Henan

is very special.

The Americans, British, and Soviets

are meeting secretly

to discuss arrangements for after the war.

I understand.

At this key moment,

we need to show the world what we can do.

Since last week,

the Generalissimo has cut back on meals

in support of the war effort.

I may not agree with the Generalissimo's politics,

but at this time of national crisis,

I will donate half of my assets

to support the war in Henan.

Old friend,

You set a good example for industrialists
and business leaders alike.

This will make Lisheng's job easier too.

I'm just worried that whatever I give

will be siphoned away by corrupt officials.

You can trust us.

I have already ordered investigations

in the disaster areas.

This time,

I am going to imprison some

and execute the rest.

Dong Jiayao.


Forty years old.

Former colonel of
the 1st War Area's supply office.

During his term,

he neglected the war

and efforts to provide relief aid.

Through hoarding

and embezzlement,

he amassed great personal wealth.

To uphold the people's justice,

he is sentenced to death,

effective immediately.

Director Lin,

Shall we start?

The citizens already saw them,

but I'd like the refugees to see them too.

The audience is too small.

Is this what you call
organization here in Luoyang?

The refugees are busy boarding the train.

It's hard to get them together.

One or two representatives will suffice.

It's not about the size of the audience,

it's about corruption being strictly punished.

You don't think the public cares about that?

Yes, sir!




It's OK.

Master Fan,

they're executing people.

Maybe we've been rescued

and we don't have to go to Shaanxi.

I don't believe anything they say.

There are soldiers on the road,

and that means Henan is still at war.


we've had nothing but bad luck at every turn.

We must go to Shaanxi.

Let's go.

Once we get back on our feet in Shaanxi,

things will get better.

Let's go.

I know

how to go from rags to riches

in less than ten years.

I'll be a landlord again,

and we can come back

for Xingxing and Huazhi.

Master Fan,

I'll be your hired hand again.

Fast-acting hunger relief pills.

Eat one, and you won't be hungry for a day.

These are longer-lasting.

Eat one and you're not hungry for seven days.

Mr. Han spent long days

researching these two pills to cure hunger.

We hope the government will fund
production and promotion.

These have the potential to rescue every one

of the people in Henan now at death's door.

What are these things made of?

Family secret.

They're made according to a secret family recipe.

If people's family secrets worked,

then no Chinese person would have starved

in the past two millennia.

The war is upon us.

Let's leave your hunger pills

for another day.

Governor Li,

The main reason I came today

wasn't to talk about the pills.

Troops have gathered in northern Henan.

Nine out of ten people are
on the verge of starvation.

I honestly can't go on in this position.


you might consider transferring me
to southern Henan.

My friend,

war is imminent.

The provincial government is about to move away.

The only way the county and
provincial governments will survive

is if we are victorious in this war.



This is a message from the Jiangsu-Gansu Railway.

To support the war effort,

safeguard railway administration,

and prevent treason and espionage,

all refugees must register at the train station

You can only board the train for free

by showing your identification

Violators who willfully disobey
this regulation and board the train

will be prosecuted under wartime

Regulation Five, Article Eight.

Listen up.

There's not much room.

You can't bring anything onto the train.


We sold people for this food.

We can't just throw it away.

Then how will we get to Shaanxi?

Hold on to me, Liubao.

We'll think of something.

Let's go.

Turn back.

Why hasn't the train left yet?

Is the air raid alert still going?

Hurry. Hurry!

I need help here.


I lost my pinwheel!







Hold tight.

Give me the tablets!

Hold tight, Lingdang!

Hold tight.

Climb up.
















What's wrong?

Master Fan!

Master Fan!

Did you see Liubao and Lingdang?

Aren't they with you?

Damn it!

They must have gone to sleep

and fallen off!

I have to go find them!

Don't jump... you'll be hurt!



My millet.

My millet!

I sold my wife for that millet!


Fuck you!

Shaanxi at last...

even if it's just the two of us.

What's wrong?

Turn back.


I have orders to take the refugees to Shaanxi.

I have orders too!

There are already millions

of refugees in Shaanxi.

If we let more in,

Shaanxi will be a disaster zone too.

Turn around!

I can't.

If I go back, I'll be executed.

I'll kill you now if you don't!

Turn back!



Aim above the train!

The rails are blocked! Everyone get off! Run!



After all we went through to get here


I'd smother you to death.

There's nobody else left now.


Why me?

Takahashi - san

how many troops do you have?

Three divisions were joined by five more,
so I have about 60,000 men.

How many Chinese troops have assembled in Henan?

Jiang Dingwen has eight divisions.

400,000 men in all.

I'll raise new forces for you.



Henan is suffering from a drought.
People are dying every day.

The Chinese government is helpless.

Your men are advancing along the same path

as the Chinese who are fleeing the famine.

How do you think they'll feel?

Because of your assistance,

they will either help on the frontline

or help to destroy the war
supplies of the Chinese army.

But they are Chinese.

No. More than anything, they're human.

In April that year,

the Japanese initiated the battle of Henan.

They encountered the stubborn resistance of
the Nationalist Army.

The Japanese army, with 60,000 soldiers,

consecutively captured twenty-eight cities,

including Zhengzhou, Xuchang, Luohe,

Zhumadian, Nanyang, Gongyi, and Luoyang

The Kuomintang forces
sustained 300,000 casualties.

Hurry. Hurry!

Hurry. Hurry!





Sir, reporting. We captured a Chinese soldier.

That isn't mine.




I picked it up on the road.

Not mine.


Old Ma?

What are you doing here?

Staying alive.

Do you know each other?

Is he a soldier?

No, he's not a soldier.

He feeds livestock.

He's a good citizen!

He drives the cart.

Like this!



He can stay and help with the horses.

He can stay

and help us with the horses.

You can stay.

We can stick together.

We are friends.

I have to find my kids.

You have to survive.

What a clever little thing.

Give it to him.

Not a chance.

What if I can't find the kids?

It's all I have to remember them.


Give me the pinwheel.

Let's trade.



Give it back to me.

My pinwheel.

Eat it.

Eat it, Shuanzhu,

so you can live.

Eat it.

Burn my daughter's pinwheel?

Fuck your mother!



Come here.

Eat this.

Eat this.

Taste good?



I knew I could trust you.

That's why I sent you to Henan.

It seems now

that I wasn't doing you a favor.

I let you down, Generalissimo.

Those treacherous Japanese.

Giving grain to starving people?

I never would have imagined it.

I've heard

some of the refugees went over to the Japanese

after eating their food.

Is that true?

This must be a rumor.

Pure sedition!

The majority of the people

support the government.

The ones causing problems

are from Wang Jingwei's clique.


How many people died in Henan?

Our figures say...

1,062 people.

And the real number?


...3 million people.

Minister Soong wants to see you urgently.

It's about the summit with the other leaders.

Roosevelt, Churchill, and Stalin
planned to meet in Cairo

to discuss the world order after the war.

But President Roosevelt just sent a telegram

saying Churchill and Stalin
don't want us to attend.

After all we sacrificed for this war.

Why can't we have a voice in

discussing post-war affairs?

But Minister Soong is still working on it.

What about the Japanese?

Approaching the Henan-Shaanxi border.

Tell He Yingqin

he must hold the Tongguan pass.

If the Japanese take Shaanxi

I won't go to Cairo

even if they ask me.


Are you coming from Shaanxi?

Why are you walking back?

There's no hope there either?

There's hope in Shaanxi,

but not for me.

You'll die if you turn back.

I don't want to keep living.

I just want to die closer to home.





She's already cold.

Don't cry, now.

Everyone in my family has died.

I don't know anyone anymore.


You can call me Grandpa.

And we'll know each other then.



Let's go.

Fifteen years later,

this little girl became my mother.

As long as I can remember,

she never shed a tear

or ate meat.

Seventy years later,

I interviewed her about the year 1942.

She stared at me blankly.

I left all that misery behind me long ago.

Why bring it up again now?

Why bring it up again now?

"Sixteen years later, Liubao
found Huazhi in Luoyang."

"Lingdang's whereabouts are still unknown."

"Twenty years later, someone saw Xingxing at Baoji."

"She sent money home,"

"but had no wish to return home
or see anyone she used to know."

"After returning to the United States,"

"Theodore White lost his job in the
Red Scare of Joseph McCarthy."

"He won the Pulitzer Prize in 1964,"

"and died in New York in 1986."

"In 1949, Chiang Kai-shek lost
mainland China and retreated to Taiwan."

"More than ten million people fled Henan
in the famine of 1942."

"Three million starved to death."