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Epic adaptation of the Pearl Buck classic about Chinese farmers battling the elements.
Wang Lung, a Chinese farmer, awakens full of anticipation on his wedding day and proceeds to the Great House to fetch his bride, the kitchen slave O-Lan, who was sold into slavery by her parents during a time of famine. That night, the stolid O-Lan cooks and serves a wedding feast to Wang, Old Father, Uncle and friends. As time passes, O-Lan toils in the house and alongside her husband in the fields, even though she is now pregnant. On the day that she gives birth, O-Lan stays at home until a thunderstorm threatens the crops. Then, despite her pain, she joins her husband in the field to harvest the wheat. When she collapses, Wang carries her to the house, but she sends him back into the field and gives birth alone. Wang's prowess as a farmer soon helps him to prosper and he uses his accumulated silver to buy another field from the Great House, whose fortunes have begun to dwindle. With the passage of time, Wang amasses five fields and his family has grown to include three children: two sons and a daughter. As drought and its resulting famine spread throughout the countryside, their crops shrivel and die and O-Lan recalls the time when her parents sold her into slavery for food. Wang's greedy and indolent uncle urges him to sell his land for food and when Wang refuses, Uncle incites the villagers to plunder Wang's home for food and silver. Instead of the anticipated bounty, however, they find O-Lan preparing a soup made of the earth to nourish her starving family. Denouncing the earth for betraying them, Wang decides to sell his land, but O-Lan, even though enfeebled by hunger, forbids the sale and insists that they go south to await better times. The family travels to the Great City in the south where O-Lan and the children beg and steal in the streets for food. Word comes of rain in the north and revolution in the south, and soon the soldiers attack the Great House. In the ensuing chaos, O-Lan is knocked down and trampled in the street. Upon regaining consciousness, she finds a discarded bag of jewels beside her and conceals it in her bosom. Immediately after, she is arrested by soldiers who are shooting looters. As they prepare to search O-Lan, orders come for them to march, and she is spared. The proceeds from the jewels allow the family to return to their land and buy more fields. Wang continues to prosper and Elder Son makes plans to go to the University. One day, Uncle takes Wang to a tea house, where he becomes entranced by Lotus, an exquisite young dancer. Under Lotus' spell, Wang dons silken robes and foresakes the earth. He also criticizes O-Lan, who has become old and worn through years of drudgery and pain, and demands that she return the two pearls she kept from the treasure so that he can present them to Lotus when he makes her his second wife. When Wang moves his family into the Great House, Old Father denounces his son's lack of values. Lotus, bored with her life, seduces Younger Son and when Wang discovers their betrayal, he orders Younger Son out of his sight. An approaching swarm of locusts delays the boy's departure, however, and Wang and his sons return to the earth to join forces with the villagers in creating a wall of fire to prevent the insects from devestating the crops. As Wang, exhausted, is about to collapse, the wind shifts, taking the locusts with it and Wang decides to sell the Great House and return to the land. After her family is reunited, O-Lan's final act is to arrange the wedding of Elder Son. As she lies in bed, watching the festivities, Wang returns the pearls to her and declares his love. As he does so, O-Lan dies, content.
Cast & Crew
|MPAA Ratings:||Premiere Info:||Los Angeles premiere: 29 Jan 1937; New York premiere: 2 Feb 1937|
|Release Date:||1937||Production Date:||
|Color/B&W:||Black and White (Sepiatone)||Distributions Co:|
|Sound:||Mono (Western Electric Sound System)||Production Co:||Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Corp.|
|Duration(mins):||137-138 or 140||Country:||United States|
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User Ratings & Review
don letta 2019-10-15
the role of olan should have gone to Anna Mae Wong...but for ancient mind-sets. Muni was great as usual, but the profusion of assorted accents was...
O-Lan, The Earth Has Forgotten Us.....
frank r. lopez 2019-07-14
This 1937 film based on Pearl S. Buck's 1931 Nobel Prize-winning novel is a timeless, terrific masterpiece of classic celluloid. Story of poor Chinese...
I'd seen the movie on TCM a year or two ago, and realized it was great but not really delving deep and paying attention. This time I sat glued,...