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.
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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.