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Living Revolution | Movies | Feature Films

Song of Youth
(Beijing Film Studio, color, 1959)
Qingchun zhi ge
Dir. Cui Wei, Chen Huaikai

Adapted from a novel of the same title, this film depicts a young woman’s transformation from housewife to loyal Communist. This process is presented as “natural” – possessed of inherent logic rather than merely “incidental”. Hence, the film is really about Communist revolution that won over the hearts and minds of Chinese youth.

To escape an arranged marriage, Lin Daojing runs away from home. Having failed to find her relative in Beijing and becoming homeless, she decides to commit suicide. She is saved by a Beijing University student named Yu Yongze, who subsequently helps her find a school-teaching job. However, Lin is soon expelled from the school after making an anti-Japanese speech. Lin marries Yu, but remains unhappy that she is financially dependent on him. Their marriage begins to deteriorate.

An underground Communist, Lu Jiachuan, who is also a student movement leader, draws Lin into social activities that Yu resents. One day, while trying to evade the Nationalist police, Lu seeks refuge in Yu’s house, but is turned away. Lu’s subsequent arrest and execution results in Lin’s split from Yu. After a kidnap and an escape, Lin finds a job in a rural school and attempts to mobilize peasant resistance against the government. She is later arrested after being betrayed by an informer. During Lin’s period of imprisonment her cell mate, Lin Hong, strengthens her faith in Communism. Upon release, Lin joins the CCP and devotes herself to the revolutionary cause.

(Zhiwei Xiao’s entry on “Song of Youth”, in Yingjin Zhang and Zhiwei Xiao, eds, Encyclopedia of Chinese Film, London: Routledge, 1998, p.311-312.)

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