The 400 Million (1939)
- Summaries (2)
The 400 million people of China are heirs to a great civilization, as their pagodas and stone lions can attest. But they are under attack from the Japanese. Civilian refugees walk, stumble, crawl to escape the destruction of their cities... While in the China of tradition, water buffalo still work the paddies and camels cross the desert, modern China is now a republic founded by Dr. Sun Yat-sen, with modern schools, heavy industry, large engineering projects... The government of Chiang Kai-shek resists the Japanese invasion from the coast. Madame Chiang receives a cheque from the U.S.A. for war relief. War production continues in distant villages safe from the grasp of the Japanese. With modern weapons the Chinese are pursuing their struggle behind enemy lines. And still their opponent persists in his reprisal bombings of civilian targets. "Will these people win?"
A pro-Chinese documentary, showing the struggle of the 400 million citizens to fight off the Japanese aggressors, put together primarily by Joris Ivens, who collaborated with Ernest Hemingway on "The Spanish Earth." The principal sequence covers the action in the South Shantung front, in April of 1938, showing the capture of Taierhchwang from the Japanese. The camera covers the course of the Yellow River---some of it--- and the construction of the road to the Soviet Union. Back in Hankow, in the summer of 1938, that the narrators--none of who played "Himself'- they were just hired voices-- tells of China's Military Council with General Chiang Kai-shek. The final segment is a trip to Canton shortly before it was captured by the Japanese.
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