May Jane, an uneducated but courageous country girl, escapes her destroyed farming village. She tries to lead a large band of orphans through the absurdity and violence of civil war (between Mao and Chiang Kai-Shek's KMT) to a ship that will bring them to safety from China in the 1940's. Extremely sentimental, brilliant, subtly rebellious cinema by the Taiwan/Hong Kong Director, who also wrote the exquisite music and intimately epic plot. Despite a number of terrific performances (including the gorgeous star, made-up to look ordinary) and sophisticated stunning cinematography, the film was unjustly dismissed by Taiwan critics, many of whom apparently harbored old antagonisms toward the director, as well as by both Hollywood-influenced young and patriotic old audiences (ending the composer/director's long successful career). This highly personal, uniquely old-fashioned and visionary film has many long sequences of superb artistry and sustained master filmmaking skill.