This film is part of Free

Chinese "Pedal" Water in Fight on Drought

Chinese farmers use pedal power to combat China's worst drought of the 20th century.

Non-Fiction 1928 1 mins Silent


This newsreel item shows Chinese farmers irrigating fields with the aid of an impressive pedal-powered wooden contraption - a traditional method supposedly some 2,000 years old. The camera captures the action from every angle: one expertly framed shot catches a sampan sailing serenely by in the background, while there are plenty of close-ups of the men's pounding feet and smiling faces.

This footage was shot by British newsreel Topical Budget and later sold to American company MGM News. No doubt it would have been included as a novelty or 'interest' item, and is typical of the newsreel's light-hearted approach, even when dealing with serious subject matter. The 'dry spell' referred to in the intertitle was actually the beginning of a major drought, resulting in a famine which affected millions of people in northern China between 1928 and 1930.