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The drama is set in a poor, superstitious village in the mountains on the Chinese border with Vietnam. When Tang, the eleventh child — the child too many, the one that shouldn’t be alive — is born, his father takes his gun and shoots his mother dead. Tang is brought up by his eldest brother, Tang the First, and suckled by a she-dog. No woman in the village wants to care for this child of ill omen.
Somebody once pointed out to me that all Asians, rich or poor, scholarly or uneducated, are superstitious. He was right. This film shows how a dream can grow from totally innocent beginnings into an irrational local belief that people cling to so blindly that it finally becomes a violent and cruel nightmare, a new tragedy.
The story in the film is set in the 1950s, but you only have to open any Asian newspaper today to see how strong, persistent and all-pervasive superstitions still are everywhere, despite all the advances of an evermore modern society. It is this aspect of society that I wanted to bring out in this very realistic film, which is directly inspired by the beliefs rooted in my own native region.