Made in very tough conditions in a Changchun studio just liberated from the Japanese, this was the pioneering attempt to dramatise Japan's invasion and annexation of Manchuria in the 1930s. Zhang Ruifang (later an iconic battleaxe in communist propaganda movies) plays a young village girl who takes to the road with her fiancé (Wang) after the Japanese have killed both her parents. The boy takes a job in a Japanese-run mine and leads the protests when it collapses in a flood. Both of them end up fighting as guerillas with the resistance. No dramatic or political surprises, but the performances are down to earth and the visuals are remarkable - much of it has the startling, pantheistic poetry once unique to Dovzhenko. A knockout debut for actor Jin Shan, who ran foul of the post-1949 government and was allowed to direct only three more features in the 1950s.
Cast and crew